Kildee Introduces New Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Michigan Families from Lead
Bill Would Identify and Remove Lead in Drinking Water at Federally Assisted Housing
Media contact: Kelly Montgomery, firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.256.6655,
FLINT, MI (April 13, 2022) — Congressman Dan Kildee, Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, today announced new bipartisan legislation, supported by Republicans and Democrats, to protect families from lead in drinking water.
The Get the Lead out of Assisted Housing Act would help protect families living in federally assisted housing from lead exposure by requiring the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to inspect for lead service lines, create a grant program for local and state governments to address lead contamination, and mandate that homes found to have lead paint be checked for lead in water.
Congressman Kildee made this announcement at a lead testing event with the Saginaw County Health Department (SCHD). The SCHD held a walk-in lead testing event at Claytor ISD Head Start. To learn more, visit saginawpublichealth.org.
“There is no safe level of lead, and the Flint water crisis taught us that we cannot take the safety of our drinking water for granted,” said Congressman Kildee. “Families in Michigan and across the country should be able to trust that they are safe from lead in their drinking water at home. My legislation takes an important step toward making that a reality by requiring water testing in federally assisted housing. Protecting families from lead in their homes is not a partisan issue, and I am proud to work with Republicans and Democrats to keep Michigan families safe from lead.”
“The Saginaw County Health Department has a long history of lead screening for children. We’ve done a lot of work in this space not only testing for lead but also counseling and educating families, following up with those who test high for lead, and helping to make the connections needed to fix the factors that put children at risk in the first place,” says Christina Harrington, MPH, health officer. “Prevention strategies like the one introduced by Congressman Kildee help remove lead from one of the most basic environmental sources—drinking water. This new focus and policy development protects families.”
Right now, at least half a million U.S. children ages one to five have elevated levels of lead in their blood, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Health experts warn that there is no safe level of lead exposure; its impacts are serious and long-lasting, especially for children, including behavioral, endocrine, and cardiovascular conditions, as well as learning difficulties and neurodevelopmental deficits.
The Get the Lead out of Assisted Housing Act would help protect families from lead exposure by:
- Improving the inspection criteria for federal housing to include lead in service lines and plumbing.
- Establishing a state and local government grant program to create a lead service line inventory, test for lead in the drinking water at childcare centers and schools, test for lead at public facilities like public water fountains and remediate to minimize lead exposure.
- Ensuring cross-checks in housing with lead paint so that testing, notification and controlling for lead in drinking water is included when providing grants for the lead-based paint hazard reduction program.
Congressman Kildee (MI-05) introduced this legislation along with representatives Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), and Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05) in the U.S. House of Representatives. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is introducing this legislation in the U.S. Senate with Senator Todd Young (R-IN). Congressman Kildee and senators Duckworth and Young worked together to introduce this legislation in 2018 and again in 2019 to limit lead exposure in federally assisted housing.
“It’s unacceptable that in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, families living in federally assisted housing remain at risk of suffering permanent brain damage as a result of drinking water contaminated with lead,” said Senator Duckworth. “With my Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act fully authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we’re already taking historic strides to get the lead out of our drinking water in communities across the country and help make sure everyone has access to clean water. Today’s bipartisan legislation would build on this progress and help ensure no family is overlooked.”
“Families shouldn’t have to face the threat of lead contamination in their drinking water or in their homes,” said Senator Young. “That’s why we are reintroducing our bipartisan Get Lead Out of Assisted Housing Act to require HUD to identify and address lead contamination at the source. This must happen to protect the health of Hoosier families and communities across the country.”
“Families needing housing assistance already face many challenges, so they should certainly not have to worry about the safety of drinking water for their children. Public and assisted housing should be free of lead exposure and other chemical pollutants. Full stop,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This bill will ensure that HUD updates its standards to include inspecting lead in service lines, creates a grant program to control for lead in drinking water, and will help update testing and notification systems. HUD must prioritize healthy and safe living conditions, especially for our children. Anything less is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. All Texans, and Americans across the country, deserve to live in homes free of lead and other pollutants.”
“In the 21st century, no American family should face dangerous lead exposure,” said Congresswoman Walorski. “Our bipartisan legislation will empower local leaders to address lead contamination and safeguard Americans in Indiana and across the country.”
“I am proud to be an original cosponsor of the Get the Lead out of Assisted Housing Act to give HUD the resources and authority it needs to better protect families and communities from lead contamination in water sources,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. “After the Exide Battery Plant disaster in my Congressional District in California, I know firsthand how devastating these exposures can be for a community, and how the public health implications of lead exposure can threaten the development of our children. I commend my colleague Dan Kildee for introducing this important bill that will expand the capacity of state and local governments to test, notify and remediate lead found in public housing, childcare centers, schools, and public facilities like public water fountains.”
“All Michigan families deserve healthy, safe and lead-free homes, and this must include families that depend on financial housing support,” said Tina Wahl, Environmental Health Policy Director at the Michigan Environmental Council. “No taxpayer should be spending money on housing that puts kids at risk of lead poisoning. The Michigan Environmental Council supports Rep. Kildee’s proposal to require the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to inspect lead service lines in federally funded housing—this is common sense legislation that will protect our children.”
“Too many children are at risk of lead poisoning in federally assisted housing,” said Amanda Reddy, Executive Director of the National Center for Healthy Housing. “Taxpayers do not want to subsidize housing that poisons children. This bill will help to stop that and protect our children’s future.”
The legislation is endorsed by the National Housing Law Project.