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Tell Congress: Pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act

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Tell Congress:

“Pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act. It’s time to update our standards and act on new health guidelines to keep children safe from lead exposure.”

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    Tell Congress: Pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act

    Pretending you’re back in the 1980s is great if you’re in the mood for big hair, nostalgic music, or classic movies. But to determine health standards for millions of children? Not so much.

    Our scientific understanding of the damaging and lifelong effects of toxins like lead on the health and mental development of children has come a long way in the last three decades. Unfortunately, many of our government’s policies have not. Today, millions of children who live in public housing and federally-assisted housing are subject to lead regulations that set an allowable blood level that is three to four times what is currently recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    There is absolutely no excuse for these disastrously out-of-date housing regulations that disproportionately affect minority and low-income children. That’s why progressive champion Rep. Keith Ellison has introduced the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act1 to immediately align these limits with current science. Along with a companion bill in the Senate, this legislation could have a dramatic effect on the lives of millions of children. We need to tell Congress to pass this legislation now.

    Tell Congress: Pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act.

    The HUD’s outdated regulations are, according to one policy expert writing in the New York Times, “the most egregious contributors to the epidemic of lead poisoning in public and low-income housing.” And the costs of ignoring the problem are significant: “Up to $53 billion in medical care, $233 billion in lost lifetime earnings, $35 billion in lost tax revenue and $146 million in special education expenses, as well as $1.7 billion in direct costs of increased crime associated with higher levels of lead in a community.”2

    The CDC requires medical intervention when a child’s blood concentration of lead reaches 5 micrograms per deciliter.3 But under the current regulations of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), action is not required to reduce lead levels in a home unless blood levels in a child reach 20 micrograms – four times higher than what is recommended by the federal government’s own scientific studies.4 This means that low-income children whose families depend on public housing are left more at risk for lead exposure than other children.

    In December, the Chicago Tribune reported the experience of one family in Chicago public housing where nine children were found to have elevated lead levels from crumbling paint. When their mother applied for a transfer, she was denied, even though her 4-year old’s blood levels registered more than double the CDC’s current recommended limit.5

    It’s time to end this shameful negligence from our own government. Congress needs to act so that no more children have to needlessly suffer. The science is clear – it’s time for HUD’s policies to catch up.

    Tell Congress: Pass the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act.

    Thank you for your activism.

    1. "Reps. Ellison and Quigley Introduce Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act," Office of Rep. Keith Ellison, March 8, 2016.

    2. Emily Benfer, "Blame HUD for America’s Lead Epidemic," New York Times, March 4, 2016.

    3. Lead blood level guidelines, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    4. Emily Benfer, "Blame HUD for America’s Lead Epidemic

    5. Michael Hawthorne, "Federal housing policy leaves poor kids at risk of lead poisoning ," Chicago Tribune, December 31, 2015.