NCHH Joins the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership
Media Contact: Christopher Bloom, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLUMBIA, MD (January 27, 2023) — The National Center for Healthy Housing is pleased to be a inaugural member of the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership. The partnership, announced this week at an event hosted by the Office of Vice President Kamala Harris, is committed to supporting and accelerating the replacement of lead service lines across the country and is guided by a framework of seven health-informed, justice-centered principles to reduce exposure to lead and protect families and communities:
- Prioritize lead remediation efforts in overburdened and underserved communities, who are more likely to be exposed to unsafe lead in their homes and environments.
- Promote the replacement of the entire lead service line, both the portion owned by the water system and the portion owned by the homeowner, to ensure that the full impact of lead pipes is addressed, without creating cost barriers or added financial burden for residents.
- Explore all available funding opportunities to ensure a speedy implementation of lead service line replacement efforts.
- Promote health-based blood lead testing, including testing in high-risk areas, such as in schools and childcare facilities and in areas with lead service lines.
- Ensure robust community engagement by promoting early and continued communication and project planning between the water utility and the public throughout the lead service line identification, planning, and replacement process, while working quickly and efficiently to mitigate lead exposure.
- Promote utilization of innovative data, science, modeling, and mapping to guide lead mitigation and develop publicly accessible inventories.
- Catalyze lead pipe replacement by spreading best practices to employ individual plumbers, municipal labor, large firms, and apprentice programs in pipe replacement contracting and prioritizing local and unionized workforce development and procurement wherever possible.
Members of the newly announced partnership include federal government, states, tribes, local communities, nongovernmental organizations, water utilities, labor unions, and private companies and will meet quarterly to promote best practices and collaboration on solutions for accelerating the replacement of lead service lines across the country.
“Lead poisoning is a problem we can solve,” stresses NCHH Executive Director Amanda Reddy. “We can eliminate unnecessary lead exposures but only if we commit to looking at lead exposure holistically and implementing comprehensive solutions that address the entire range of exposures within a given community. That includes getting lead out of our drinking water. And we must not stop there.”
There is no safe blood lead level in children, and lead is a serious environmental justice issue that disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color. About 3.3 million American households, including approximately 2.1 million households in lower-income communities, have children under six years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development. Children with blood lead levels can experience delayed growth and development, permanent damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, and a host of other health-related problems. Public health actions are needed for these children.
“A child’s body doesn’t care where the lead is coming from,“ said Dr. David Jacobs, NCHH’s chief scientist and former director of the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. “Lead is highly toxic and persists in many locations. Our nation should adopt a broad strategy that addresses all sources and pathways of exposure, and the administration’s commitment to rapid replacement of lead service lines is an important part of that approach.”
Lead exposure is largely preventable, and preventing lead exposure doesn’t just improve health. It also lifts up our communities through improvements in education and productivity—allowing individuals and families to thrive—and can also generate important co-benefits for other administration priorities like climate change, racial equity, and affordable, resilient housing. For example, the administration’s plan to replace lead service lines is also estimated to create thousands of jobs. Similarly, replacing older lead-painted windows with new energy-efficient ones eliminates a major source of childhood lead poisoning, decreases home utility bills, reduces carbon emissions by improving energy efficiency, improves home values, creates thousands of jobs and revenue for window manufacturers and installers, and targets one of our nation’s most persistent and shameful environmental injustices.
“We applaud the partnership’s commitment to preventing lead exposure and the harm it has unjustly and unnecessarily conferred on generations of American children,” said Ms. Reddy. “We look forward to leveraging the efforts of this partnership to find and fix lead hazards, regardless of source, before children are exposed and harmed.”
Other recent federal actions on lead include the Food and Drug Administration’s draft guidance on action levels for lead in baby food, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed endangerment finding on lead in aviation gas and related supportive language in the FY23 omnibus spending bill, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s latest open Notice of Funding Opportunity for lead hazard reduction and healthy homes activities in public and federally assisted housing.
For more information, visit the official Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership fact sheet. To learn what else the administration and Congress can do to take action to reduce lead exposure and prevent harm today and for generations to come, visit:
- Childhood Lead Poisoning 1970-2022: Charting Progress and Needed Reforms
- Title X at 30: Opportunities for Refinement
- The Administration’s New Lead Action Plan Is a Step Forward, but We Can Finish the Fight with a Leap
About the National Center for Healthy Housing
The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) is a national nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives by transforming housing. Since 1992, NCHH has served as a highly regarded and credible change agent, successfully integrating healthy housing advocacy, research, and capacity building under one roof to reduce health disparities nationwide. Follow NCHH on Twitter (@NCHH), Instagram (@nchhorg), or LinkedIn, become a fan on Facebook, or subscribe to NCHH’s YouTube channel.