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Trump Administration Unveils Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler, U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan unveiled the Trump Administration’s Federal Lead Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Lead Action Plan).

“The Federal Lead Action Plan will enhance the Trump Administration’s efforts to identify and reduce lead contamination while ensuring children impacted by lead exposure are getting the support and care they need,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA will develop an implementation plan by March 2019 that will enable us to track our progress and update the public as we work to carry out the action plan and mitigate childhood lead exposure.”

“The Trump administration’s new Lead Action Plan reflects our strong commitment to preventing future generations from being affected by lead exposure,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “We know that lead exposure at a young age can result in serious effects on IQ, attention span, and academic achievement. We need to continue taking action to prevent these harmful effects. Identifying lead-exposed children, connecting them with appropriate services, and preventing other children from being exposed to lead are important public health priorities for this administration.”

“HUD is delighted to join the other members of the Task Force in issuing this cohesive Federal Lead Action Plan,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Implementing this plan will help federal agencies, along with our state and local partners, advance efforts to remediate home health hazards and keep children safe from lead poisoning.”

“The Lead Action Plan is a great example of federal agencies working together to protect families from a dangerous, preventable health risk,” said EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “This plan strengthens the effort to ensure a future where parents can let their kids drink water from the tap and play in the house or in the yard without worrying about the consequences of lead exposure.”

Administrator Wheeler, Secretary Carson, and Deputy Secretary Hargan released the Lead Action Plan in front of a crowd of 30 dedicated career employees from EPA, HHS, and HUD who helped develop the plan. 

EPA Region 2 aggressively implements the “3Ts” (Training, Testing, Telling) guidance to reduce lead in drinking water in schools throughout New York, New Jersey and tribal nations within New York State. Region 2 has worked with more than 35 public school districts and child care centers to implement the guidance, sample water outlets for lead, and address outlets having elevated lead levels. In response to the results that EPA Region 2 has achieved over the years, both the New York State Department of Health and the New Jersey Department of Education enacted new state laws requiring public schools to test for lead in drinking water, becoming two of the first states in the nation to develop regulations.

Region 2 has a robust lead-based paint enforcement program. On average, Region 2 conducts over 100 inspections and processes between 1,200 and 1,300 individual certifications annually. The work ensures that entities like renovation and lead abatement contractors, landlords, property managers, realtors and others comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead-based paint.

About the Lead Action Plan
Developed through cross-governmental collaboration of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force), which includes 17 federal departments and offices, the Lead Action Plan is a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms by working with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.
The four goals of the Lead Action Plan are:
Goal 1: Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Sources
Goal 2: Identify Lead-Exposed Children and Improve their Health Outcomes
Goal 3: Communicate More Effectively with Stakeholders
Goal 4: Support and Conduct Critical Research to Inform Efforts to Reduce Lead Exposures and Related Health Risks

EPA is committed to developing an implementation plan – by March 2019 – that includes performance metrics for monitoring progress and demonstrating accountability for EPA actions identified in the Lead Action Plan. The agency also commits to providing periodic updates on the progress of these actions.

The Lead Action Plan will help federal agencies work strategically and collaboratively to reduce exposure to lead and improve children’s health. EPA and members of the Task Force will continue to engage with and reach out to community stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations.

Click here to read the full report.

The President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children, which was established in 1997 by Executive Order 13045, is the focal point for federal collaboration to promote and protect children’s environmental health. The Task Force is currently co-chaired by Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

Since the 1970s, the United States has made tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels. Lead exposure, particularly at higher doses, continues to pose a significant health and safety threat to children, preventing them from reaching the fullest potential of their health, their intellect, and their future. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.

Now, however, tackling the problem at this stage requires a coordinated federal-wide effort that evaluates the predominant sources of lead and also includes improving identification and treatment of children identified as lead exposed. It requires a more robust and coordinated communication with parents and others regarding the risks and methods to reduce exposure and a collaborative multi-agency research plan – as outlined by the Lead Action Plan.

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