Menendez, Durbin Urge EPA to Toughen Lead Hazard Standards

Menendez, Durbin Urge EPA to Toughen Lead Hazard Standards


WASHINGTON – With reports of children exposed to dangerous levels of lead on the rise across the country, U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update its lead hazard standards in an effort to protect children from dangerous lead exposure.  In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the senators expressed concern that current standards are outdated and do not adequately protect children from lead poisoning, which is known to cause irreversible and long-term developmental delays and behavioral problems.

“We are concerned that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (Agency) current lead hazard standards, such as lead-contaminated dust and lead-contaminated soil, are ineffective and do not reflect the best and most recent scientific evidence available,” wrote the senators. “Without reliable, safe, and protective standards in place, we are incapable of protecting children from lead poisoning and its devastating consequences. We urge the Agency to conduct a thorough review of its current regulations related to lead standards and expedite revisions accordingly.”

Last year, there were more than 3,000 new cases of children under the age of six in New Jersey with elevated levels of lead in their blood.  Over 225,000 young children in New Jersey have been afflicted by lead since 2000.

In March, Sens. Menendez and Durbin joined U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) in introducing the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016 to combat lead exposure and poisoning in children in federal, low-income housing programs.  The bill was included, along with Menendez’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act of 2016, in the comprehensive True LEADership Act, which aims to respond to the national lead public health emergency through investments in water infrastructure, mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems, grants to help school districts test for lead and a requirement for the EPA to issue new health-based lead standards.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last month unveiled a new initiative that implements many of the reforms outlined in the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016, including the revision of the Lead-Safe Housing Rule to match the CDC standard, after three provisions of Lead-Safe Housing for Kids passed the Senate as part of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill.