A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING

WHEREAS, the Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") identify childhood lead poisoning as entirely preventable and the most pressing environmental health problem facing young children in the United States, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") estimates that 1.7 million American children have elevated blood lead levels ("BLLs"); and

WHEREAS, the inhalation and ingestion of lead particles and dust may cause irreparable cognitive deficiencies in a child, and a significant source of such particles and dust is deteriorating or damaged lead paint accessible to children; and

WHEREAS, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and HUD recognize intact lead paint poses little immediate risk to occupants of residential housing but estimate that 3.8 million families with young children live in housing with deteriorating, flaking lead paint and/or excessive lead dust; and

WHEREAS, The President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children reported in 2000 that more than 80% of the interior lead paint that still exists today was applied before 1940, that less that 4% of the existing lead-based paint was applied after 1960, and the Federal Government banned the use of lead-based paint for residential use in 1978; and

WHEREAS, the CDC reports that the prevalence of elevated blood lead levels among children living in low-income older housing is as much as 30 times greater than that of middle-income children living in newer housing; and

WHEREAS, according to the CDC, African-American children and children in low-income families appear to be disproportionately at risk, with 22% of African-American children having elevated BLLs and 85% of all children with elevated BLLs being enrolled in Medicaid; and

WHEREAS, Boston's health and housing officials have undertaken to eradicate childhood lead poisoning from that City by the year 2005 by maintaining the City's emphasis on results-oriented proactive measures that target older housing and less-advantaged neighborhoods and reduced childhood lead poisoning by 54% over the last three years; and

WHEREAS, Boston's successful experience with the challenges of lead-poisoning is replicable in most, if not all, cities and the city desires to share that experience with the entire body of the U.S. Conference of Mayors; and

WHEREAS, elements of Boston's success are attributed to rigorously enforcing the Massachusetts' law that requires vigorous blood lead level screening, thereby identifying cases of slightly elevated BLLs early, treating affected children before their exposures become severe preventing other poisonings in the same household from occurring and by stringently enforcing laws that place the responsibility on the landlord or homeowner to ensure that all units that house children under six are made lead-safe, and subjects violators to strict liability for damages to children poisoned while residing in their properties; and

WHEREAS, implementing a practical, proactive, multi-faceted approach - one that involves seeking out federal, state, and private sector grants and partnerships; dramatically increasing the rates at which children's blood lead levels are screened; vigorously enforcing strict state lead hazard abatement laws; creatively financing lead hazard remediation in high-risk neighborhoods; and significantly improving parental and community education - mayors across America can meet the challenge of significantly reducing lead poisoning in their communities,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors supports:

  • The White House quickly rallying federal, state, and local government, private-sector, and community leaders to eradicate childhood lead poisoning from the nation and make cities lead-safe by 2010.
  • Congress significantly increasing federal funding for lead hazard remediation in privately-owned, low-income housing, through the HUD Lead Hazard Control Grant Program or otherwise, to at least $[250] million per year.
  • Health care providers diligently screening the blood lead levels of all children in high-risk areas, especially through the Medicaid Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program, which is already mandated by federal law but not adequately implemented.
  • Government officials vigorously enforcing lead-related federal, state, and local laws, including those requiring property owners to inform occupants about the risks of lead hazards, to abate any lead hazards in their properties, and to prevent any such hazards from arising in the future.
  • Community, faith-based, and other nonprofit organizations assisting in comprehensively educating children, parents, and other caretakers about lead-safe health practices.
  • Cities and interested businesses creatively engaging in public-private partnerships to implement best practices to advance the elimination of lead hazards and the eradication of lead poisoning.