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EPA, HUD and HHS Unveil Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure

Heartland effort focuses on historic lead operations, lead paint dust

12/19/2018
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Dec. 19, 2018) - Today, 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.”

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

“Knowing that no blood lead level is safe for our children, EPA is committed to continuing a collaborative approach with our federal, state and local partners to address this threat in our communities and protect children’s health,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “The Federal Lead Action Plan establishes a clear path for federal agencies to work together to protect children’s health from the dangers of lead.”

“The Region 7 team and its federal and local partners are already hard at work in reducing childhood lead exposure in our four-state region through environmental remediation and public education,” he said.

In Region 7, which comprises Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, EPA is working to reduce childhood lead exposure through several initiatives including reducing lead air emissions; remediating yards near lead-contaminated sites due to historic lead smelting and mining operations; cleaning up leaded glass sites; and conducting a public education campaign about the hazards of lead paint dust in St. Joseph, Missouri.

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 activities 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.

The full report is available on EPA’s website.

Background

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 EPA Acting 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.

Tackling the problem at this stage requires a coordinated federal-wide effort that evaluates the predominant sources of lead and improves 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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