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Trump Administration unveils Federal Action Plan to reduce childhood lead exposure

Region 8 highlights ongoing efforts to address lead

12/19/2018
Contact Information: 
Richard Mylott (mylott.richard@epa.gov)
303-312-6654

DENVER (December 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.”

“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.”

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, HHS, and HUD who helped develop the plan.  Consistent with the plan, EPA’s regional offices are also developing plans and priority actions to work with partners to reduce lead exposure.

“EPA Region 8’s Action Plan focuses on reducing lead exposure through programs that address various sources, including drinking water, lead-based paint, and soil at contaminated properties,” said EPA Regional Administrator Doug Benevento. “This work reflects our core responsibilities to protect public health, including children and sensitive populations. The effectiveness of lead poisoning prevention depends on coordinated approaches with our federal, state, tribal, and local partners.”

Ongoing work being completed as part of EPA Region 8’s Lead Action Plan includes an outreach, assistance, and enforcement initiative focused on compliance with EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule to promote lead-safe renovations and protect vulnerable populations from exposure to lead-based paint hazards.  In addition, EPA is working with state, tribal, and local partners across the Region to ensure compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and standards for lead in drinking water systems. The Agency is also accelerating the pace of cleanups at contaminated sites where lead exposure is a concern, including at the Colorado Smelter site in Pueblo, Colorado; the Silver Bow Creek/Butte and Anaconda Superfund sites in Montana; and Brownfields properties on the Spirit Lake Nation in North Dakota.

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.

Click here to read the full report.

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 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.

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.