Plan of Action to Prevent Childhood Lead Exposure
This week is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Over the last few months, UPHE has raised the call for more state funding of lead screening for pregnant women, newborns and prospective parents. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends blood tests for children between 2 – 5 years but only around 3% of Utah children are tested for exposure to lead. The risk of irreversible brain damage to newborns and babies in utero is greater at this important stage of their development. Both the CDC and EPA recognize that there’s no safe level of human exposure to lead.
UPHE is a co-signatory on a letter sent early this month to EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy and Dept. of Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell – both Co-Chairs of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children. The letter contains a plan of action to prevent childhood lead exposure, prepared by Earthjustice with input from UPHE and other organizations. Read the full letter and plan here.
UPHE will also launch a lead and radon outreach program with our partners, the Salt Lake Lead Safe Housing Program and the Utah Dept. of Environmental Quality Radon Program. Salt Lake County administers grant funds supported by the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative to qualifying homeowners, renters and landlords to make homes lead safe for children. They provide testing for children under the age of six who live in qualifying properties.
For our children’s future, we need more testing in order to know the extent of lead exposure not only from old buildings but also from other industry sources in Utah. Due to the widespread industrial uses of lead in gasoline, paint, and metal products for decades in the United States, lead is in our water, soil, dust, and the air we breathe. It also enters our communities every year from new sources of lead, such as wheel weights, cosmetics & hair dyes, industrial processes, and leaded aviation gas used small aircraft.