Joint Statement of Lead Professionals, Attendees of a workshop at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference of the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association (LEHA) on Lead and Healthy Housing, Philadelphia, PA, November 8, 2017.
To the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force), which has solicited comments on a new federal lead strategy.
At a workshop of the most recent LEHA meeting attendees were asked to see if consensus could be found concerning what should be done to address the problem of lead poisoning. By show of hands all attendees identified as lead professionals, and about 80% were working for a government agency. Each participant thought about their response on their own, before making suggestions. Every single suggestion in the statement below garnered unanimous agreement.
“We, professionals working to prevent and address lead poisoning, urge the following:
Institute these actions as quickly as possible and set specific, measurable deadlines for implementation.
Focus on primary prevention for the biggest return on investment.
Require risk assessment inspection on all housing transactions receiving federal financial assistance.
Institute universal blood lead testing.
Increase awareness of the issue and applicable law and available resources, and the effectiveness of response, in low income areas.
Prioritize enforcement of those who are ignoring the law rather than those not fully complying with RRP.
Increase the availability and utilization of grants for lead hazard control.
Recapture past profits from lead paint sales and lead water service lines.
Use weatherization (energy efficiency funds) for window replacement. Adjust the credit to encourage this activity. Account for the healthy homes benefits across multiple funding streams.
Condition the receipt of relevant federal funds on using CDC’s reference blood lead level to trigger action.
Provide greater assistance for relocation and ensure that health hazards in the property are addressed.
Increase funding for community-based participatory research and focus on more outreach and education to engage more people in the discussion of reducing exposures in their community.
Ensure lead battery recycling facilities do not endanger nearby residents and local environment.
Engage and educate local officials and decision-makers, through technical assistance, and the use of rewards and conditions for receiving funding at the local level.
Update building codes and utilize the permitting and authorization capacities of local code officials. Foster adoption of the NCHH model code language to bridge health law and property law.
Facilitate continued public discussion – create actual and virtual spaces where people can share their stories and learn about the problem and solutions and engage in policy deliberation about what to do about lead on a continuous basis.
Require childcare facilities to include certification of lead safety.
FHA 203 rehab loans should give priority to homes needing lead abatement.
Rental properties should be inspected and the information fully disclosed as a condition of renting, either by posting or delivery of the inspection report.
Increase legal assistance to tenants to prevent and punish retaliation for complaining or drawing attention to lead or pursuing their own rights.
Establish a special unit to investigate and stop retaliation, and consider means of strengthening anti-retaliation laws to make them more effective.
Stronger rules and regulations on abatement work are necessary. The laws need more teeth.
All leaded fuel products and lead paint should be taxed and the revenue used for education, funding abatement, and relocation.”
I, the organizer of this public conversation on lead, am privileged to report these recommendations by 32 lead professionals who attended the workshop. The statement is also posted at www.leadconversation.net.
Three attendees who had to leave early left written suggestions which are not included in the joint statement because the entire group did not have the chance to discuss them, although some are in agreement with the group statement. These suggestions were:
Remediate all lead in public housing.
Require landlords in high risk areas show their properties are leadsafe.
Apply a fee or tax on each sale of lead-based paint.
Make landlords who do not make their properties lead safe liable for lead poisoning of tenants,
regardless of tenant age.
Increase education to the public, to landlords, to all that don’t have the knowledge they should have.
Increase funding for agencies to ensure that all who should be doing trained and certified work are duly trained and certified, and relevant enforcement.
Increase education of doctors.
Restrict landlord ability to end leases soon after work is done.
Fund efforts to reach the neediest populations.
Make inspections for pre-1960 housing mandatory.
Continue scientific evaluation of the impact of lead exposure.
Thank you for your work on this issue and your dedication to preventing any further unnecessary poisoning and I hope the advice of these experts will be helpful to you in your important work.
November 10, 2017