EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit TribLIVE.com on Sunday for an In-Depth Look into How Schools across Western Pennsylvania Are Responding to Lead Risks — and How the Biggest Problem Is What We Don’t Know [Derived Headline]

By Lindstrom, Natasha | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 2, 2017 | Go to article overview

EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit TribLIVE.com on Sunday for an In-Depth Look into How Schools across Western Pennsylvania Are Responding to Lead Risks — and How the Biggest Problem Is What We Don’t Know [Derived Headline]


Lindstrom, Natasha, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit TribLIVE.com on Sunday for an in-depth look into how schools across Western Pennsylvania are responding to lead risks — and how the biggest problem is what we don’t know.

Protecting America’s children from lead is going to cost an estimated $6 billion and take up to 30 years — and that’s if policymakers act swiftly, a new report has found.

The United States has lagged behind European nations for as many as 50 years in reducing lead levels, and efforts to reduce risks by states and municipalities have been “fragmented and underfunded,” says the report published this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“As a result, lead continues to adversely affect millions of children, particularly those in low-income communities and those of color because of their disproportionate risk of exposure to sources of lead in older homes and under-resourced neighborhoods,” concludes the report, which based its findings on interviews, focus groups, national listening sessions, case studies, federal data and quantitative analyses using models by Altarum Institute, the Brookings Institution, Child Trends and Urban Institute.

SCOPE OF LEAD DANGERS

Lead emanating from peeling paint and its dust particles threaten young children in 3.6 million U.S. homes, with more than one-third of the nation’s housing stock built before 1978 containing lead paint, American Healthy Homes Survey data show. In Allegheny County, about 89 percent of houses were built before lead paint was banned.

Lead-laden service lines are pumping water from the street to sidewalks at the private homes of an estimated 5.5 million and 22 million people — including more than 17,000 homes served by the embattled Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Alarmingly high levels of lead-contaminated water have been found at public school and child care facilities nationwide, with scant data available on the pervasiveness of lead risks in schools because most don’t even test for it.

Researchers further emphasized that there is no single source of lead poisoning for kids, with exposure not only coming from water and the chipped walls and dusty doorknobs of homes but also from aviation gas, contaminated soil and even certain types of foods, health products, cosmetics and candy.

Eliminating lead from airplane fuel would protect 220K+ children & remove 450 tons of lead from envt each year.https://t.co/sdHjc6e3eF— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) September 2, 2017

“Financing is going to be a challenge when the cost is so big,” said Dr. Giridhar Mallya, a family practice physician and senior policy officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in Philadelphia.

That’s why the new report honed in on specific policy recommendations and showcased plenty of “good leads on how communities have been able to come up with innovative solutions,” Mallya said.

Learn how 15 communities will use this newly released report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood... https://t.co/XnhyPSUzSF— NCHH (@NCHH) August 31, 2017

PUBLIC HEALTH PRIORITY

Researchers lamented what they described as a disconnect between the level of concerns expressed by the public about lead contamination and the level of action taken by policymakers to do something about it.

Full-service lead line replacements will take an estimated 20 to 30 years to complete, the report said.

Researchers observed some of the more proactive programs to address lead dangers happened in places along the Rust Belt, such as Toledo, Ohio, and Grand Rapids, Mich. …

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