|Further Information:||For Release|
|In the Washington, DC area: 202/708-0685||Wednesday|
|Or contact your local HUD office||March 29, 2000|
Statement by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo on "Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning: A Federal Strategy Targeting Lead Paint Hazard."
"This unprecedented report is an important step toward ending the epidemic of childhood lead paint poisoning in the United States. Recognizing the importance of solving this problem, HUD has requested $120 million in Congressional funding to reduce hazards in low income privately owned housing. As a member of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, HUD is committed to acting before kids are poisoned - enforcing lead paint laws, promoting public education, and conducting research to end lead paint poisoning."
PRESIDENTIAL TASK FORCE RELEASES STRATEGY TO ELIMINATE CHILDHOOD LEAD POISONING
Tipper Gore, honorary chair of the Campaign for a Lead Safe America, today released a comprehensive government-wide strategy prepared by the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children outlining efforts to achieve a virtual end to childhood lead poisoning in America within ten years. To achieve the goals of the report, the task force will work with local communities, the private sector, and housing and public health officials.
"Lead poisoning is still one of the greatest environmental threats to children in America, and the real tragedy is that it is preventable," Mrs. Gore said. "Lead poisoning causes serious learning, behavioral and physical disorders in children and can carry lifelong consequences. It is now within our power to protect every child in America from the hazards posed by lead paint."
The strategy, "Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning: A Federal Strategy Targeting Lead Paint Hazard", calls for making 2.3 million homes where children under age six live lead-safe by controlling lead paint hazards. It also calls for promoting public education programs, strictly enforcing lead-paint regulations, and encouraging early interventions for at-risk children. The report estimates that by preventing adverse effects of lead on children's health and development, the economic benefits will exceed the cost of the strategy by $8.9 billion.
To help accomplish these goals, the Administration's FY 2001 budget calls for an investment of $164.5 million, including a 50 percent increase in lead hazard control grants, and nearly $13 million in new federal funding for enforcement of lead regulations.
The most recent data show that in the United States, nearly one million children under the age of six - one in 20 - have elevated levels of lead in their bodies. Lead can damage children's central nervous systems. Elevated blood lead levels can produce significant nervous system effects, such as reduction in intelligence and attention span, reading and learning disabilities, and behavior problems.
The strategy coordinates measures in many federal departments and agencies aimed at preventing lead poisoning in America's children by:
- Acting Before Children Are Poisoned by eliminating and preventing residential lead paint hazards through targeted grants and leveraged private funds for hazard control, public education, and enforcement of lead-paint laws;
- Identifying and Caring for Children Already Poisoned through increased early intervention for children with elevated blood lead levels, and expanded blood lead screening and follow-up services for at-risk children, especially Medicaid-eligible children;
- Conducting Research to drive down costs and promote innovation; and
- Continuing Surveillance and Monitoring programs to measure progress and refine lead poisoning prevention strategies.
The Clinton/Gore Administration already has taken a number of significant steps to reduce children's exposure to residential lead, including: blood testing programs for high-risk children, funding to remove lead hazards now in place in some 200 cities nationwide, and full disclosure of lead hazards for renters and prospective home buyers so that parents have the information they need to protect their children from lead. In addition, the Task Force will work with housing, community, and medical groups to effectively implement the strategy and plans to bring together these groups to share their ideas.
In recognition of the growing body of scientific information demonstrating that America's children suffer more than adults do from environmental health risks and safety risks, in April 1997, President Clinton directed Federal agencies to identify, assess, and address those risks. The President also created the Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, which was charged with recommending strategies for protecting children's environmental health and safety. The Campaign for a Lead Safe America was created by the Administration in 1996 to address lead threats confronting America's children.
Copies of the strategy are available from the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD. The strategy is also available on the Internet at www.hud.gov/lea or www.epa.gov/children/whatwe/tf_proj.htm.