Call for national action to eliminate lead poisoning in the wake of Flint water crisis
Media Contact: David Jacobs, 202.607.0938, email@example.com
Columbia, MD (May 12, 2016) – Today, the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) and the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition (Coalition) announced Find It, Fix It, Fund It (#findfixfund), an action drive that urges Congress and the Administration to develop and implement a bold, comprehensive national plan to eliminate lead paint hazards and replace lead pipes.
“Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy,” said NCHH’s Executive Director, Nancy Rockett Eldridge. “This call to action lays out the necessary steps to win the fight against lead poisoning—to find lead hazards before they harm children, to fix these hazards using both short- and long-term proven methods, and to fund these critical efforts. If Congress and the Administration act in a concerted effort to create and implement a national lead elimination action plan, American children can be protected from this needless tragedy.”
Said Roberta Hazen Aaronson, Executive Director of the Childhood Lead Action Project, who also serves on the Coalition’s steering committee: “Eliminating lead poisoning could be America’s greatest public health success story of our time, similar to eliminating cholera and other epidemics caused in part by inadequate housing a century ago.”
Over 535,000 children under the age of six have elevated blood lead levels (readings above the CDC reference level). Childhood exposure to lead has lifelong consequences, including decreased IQ and cognitive function, developmental delays, and behavior problems; very high levels can cause seizures, coma, and even death.
“I don’t want any other parents going through what our members have been through,” said Coalition steering committee member Brenda Music. Ms. Music is also the founder of Iowa Parents against Lead Poisoning (IPAL) and the mother of a child who was exposed to harmful levels of lead.
“Our nation has laboratories, inspection firms, and abatement contractors who have the capacity to help end this problem,” said Steve Weil, Administrator of the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association and member of the Coalition’s steering committee.
NCHH and the Coalition are calling for immediate steps by Congress during its current appropriations process to address urgent need by dramatically increasing funding. They cite studies showing that lead poisoning prevention could achieve enormous cost savings. In 2008, the socioeconomic costs of lead poisoning alone were estimated at a minimum of $50 billion. The estimated return on investment for HUD’s lead hazard control is $17-$221 per dollar spent.
“Solving lead poisoning means having federal agencies working together: CDC identifying lead-poisoned children and providing needed education and outreach, HUD finding and remediating lead paint hazards, and EPA and local agencies enforcing critical regulations,” said Kara Eastman, President and CEO for the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance. Ms. Eastman also serves on the Coalition’s steering committee.
NCHH and the Coalition are leading efforts to promote funding and new policies for lead poisoning prevention in homes, as well as the re-establishment of a federal cross-agency commission or task force on lead poisoning. They support allied efforts to replace lead water pipes and promote needed services for children impacted by lead.
“We’re working closely with leaders in Congress and the Administration, with critical national, state, and local allies, and with the hundreds of Coalition members who fight lead poisoning every day. We want to ensure that the awareness created by Flint and other tragedies leads to an ultimate comprehensive victory over lead poisoning,” said Ms. Eldridge.
Learn more about the Find it, Fix It, Fund It action drive and lead advocacy efforts here.
About the National Center for Healthy Housing
Originally founded as the National Center for Lead-Safe Housing in 1992, the National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) is the preeminent national nonprofit dedicated to securing healthy homes for all. Since 1992, NCHH has successfully integrated healthy housing advocacy, research, and capacity-building under one roof to reduce health disparities nationwide. You can follow NCHH on Twitter @nchh or become a fan on Facebook at Facebook.com/HealthyHousing
About the National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition
The National Safe and Healthy Housing Coalition is a broad, voluntary coalition of over 225 organizations working to improve housing conditions nationwide through education and outreach to key national stakeholders and federal public decision-makers. The Coalition promotes policies for safe and healthy housing in the United States, with special emphasis on those who are disproportionately impacted by housing-related illness and injury.