|Calling In the Feds
“With the help of advocacy groups like Children First, I transformed my guilt into action by helping to pass lead-safe rental laws, update building codes, and fight for universal testing. The real solutions prevent lead poisoning before it happens. The real solutions take leadership.”
These words were spoken today by Jana Curtis (left in photo), a Philadelphia mom whose daughter was poisoned by lead, as she introduced the President of the United States of America.
At his visit to the Belmont Water Treatment Plant, President Biden laid down the gauntlet, saying enough is enough and that no more children should suffer the entirely preventable consequences of lead poisoning. The Biden-Harris Administration has pledged it’s commitment to 100% lead-free water systems across America.
“Our mission has to do with basic dignity. Every American deserves to turn on their water tap or faucet and be able to drink clean water,” said President Biden. “We’re the richest most prosperous nation in the world. [Safe] water ought to be something that is guaranteed and unfortunately that’s not the case right now.”
As part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Philadelphia is getting $500 million to help upgrade water facilities and replace miles of lead pipes that deliver drinking water to homes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with Philadelphia through the process of lead service line removals from start to finish. This will include support in developing lead service line replacement plans, conducting inventories to identify lead pipes, and increasing community outreach and education efforts.
The announcement today demonstrates a dramatic increase in the federal commitment to eliminate all sources of lead poisoning. For instance, during the Trump Administration, Congress increased federal funds to get lead paint out of homes by more than 35% and boosted the Center for Disease Control’s lead prevention funding by 100%.
“The Biden-Harris Administration is grabbing the bull by the horns, boosting funds for childhood lead prevention more than any previous president. What a godsend for children,” said Donna Cooper, our Executive Director, who was invited by the White House to attend today’s event.
In addition to eradicating lead in drinking water, the Administration is taking on lead paint as well with ambitious initiatives to remove lead paint in public housing, child care centers, and schools by creating an unprecedented cabinet-level partnership between the EPA, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
As Jana said, the real solutions take leadership. Across the Commonwealth, local lawmakers have demonstrated their leadership to protect children from lead hazards. Norristown, Philadelphia, Lancaster City, Pittsburgh, Columbia Borough, Borough of Millvale, and East Lansdowne have already passed regulations to make houses, apartments, and child care centers lead-safe. The head of the new Delaware County Health Department has pledged her commitment to reducing the threat of lead in Delco, which is in the top five PA counties for childhood lead poisoning.
Even in Harrisburg, where consensus is hard to find, House Democrats awarded the lead hot-spot communities $10 million to get the lead out of homes, and a Republican sponsored a lead poisoning screening bill that passed with bipartisan support. Already additional lead poison prevention bills are on the docket this year.
The threat of lead in paint or pipes is thought to be a problem of the past but we know that thousands of children are poisoned every year. Get involved in keeping children free from harm by joining the Lead-Free Promise Project or contacting Rosemarie Halt, Interim Health Policy Director, on our team.
Ending lead poisoning is at the top of our agenda – and it’s good to know it’s at the top of Joe Biden’s agenda too.