Lower definition of «elevated blood lead levels» in young children to match CDC

Providence – «There is no amount of lead in a child’s blood that can be considered safe,» said
HUD Secretary Castro. «We have an obligation to the families we serve to protect
their children. By aligning our standard with the one used by the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, we can act more quickly and make certain the homes
we support are as safe as possible.»

«Lead poisoning prevents kids from reaching their full potential, and it costs the
public millions of dollars each year. Secretary Castro has emphasized community
engagement, and I am pleased he is here in Rhode Island to meet with local leaders
to address this threat and to highlight new tools and initiatives to prevent
childhood lead poisoning,» said Senator Reed, a Congressional champion for
eliminating lead-based paint hazards and the Ranking Member of the Senate
Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee.
«Secretary Castro has been a true leader in advocating for children and families in
need and has renewed HUD’s focus on the prevention of childhood lead poisoning. The
steps we are announcing today are immediate, cost-effective measures that will
change the lives of children living in low-income housing. It is important that we
continue to work together, across the housing, education, and public health sectors,
to continue to address childhood lead poisoning.»

HUD-assisted housing has fewer lead-based paint hazards than unassisted low- and
middle-income homes. Still, some young children living in HUD-assisted properties
have blood lead levels higher than CDC’s threshold. By lowering HUD’s reference
level to conform to CDC’s, the Department will be able to intervene more quickly to
stop the negative impact lead can have on the lives of children.

When a child under the age of six resides in HUD-assisted housing and experiences
elevated blood levels, the housing provider would be required report the case to HUD
so the Department can launch an immediate environmental investigation. If it is
determined that lead-based paint or lead-contaminated soil is the cause of the
child’s exposure, the housing provider must clean up those hazards.

This proposed rule will potential cover an estimated 2.9 million HUD-assisted
housing units built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned for
residential use. Of these homes, approximately 490,000 are estimated to have
children under six residing in them, and 128,000 of those are estimated to contain
lead-based paint.

HUD has a long history of working to ensure lead-safe housing, which fits into the
broader federal response to address lead hazards found in paint, dust and soil, and
other sources like water and consumer goods. For 25 years, HUD’s Office of Lead
Hazard Control and Healthy Homes has worked to improve methods to identify and
address home-related health and safety hazards, including lead. Since 1993, HUD has
awarded more than $1.58 billion in grants to communities for identification and
control of lead-based paint hazards in over 190,000 low-income privately owned
housing units. In addition, HUD continues to support research on best practices for
identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards, and conduct an outreach
program to get the message out.

HUD’s key federal partners share an extensive history of work to prevent
children’s lead exposure. The CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
Program has developed programs and policies to prevent childhood lead
poisoning and provided funding to state and local health departments to
determine the extent of childhood lead poisoning. The Environmental
Protection Agency’s lead-based paint program has increased the quality
of training of lead inspectors, renovation professionals and abatement
firms who work on older homes.

The effects of lead poisoning are irreversible. Even at low levels, lead exposure
can have long-term effects on a young child’s ability to learn and lead a productive
life. In addition to today’s announcement, HUD recently announced The Lead-Safe
Homes, Lead-Free Kids
a set of guidelines and recommendations for ensuring HUD housing is lead-safe, and
the Healthy Homes
App, which
provides consumers with information about potentially serious health and safety
problems in the home and the steps they can take to protect themselves.

This proposed rule will be open for public comment for the next 60 days. Interested
persons may submit comments electronically at Comments may also be submitted by
mail to the Regulations Divisions, Office of General Counsel, Department of Housing
and Urban Development, 451 7th Street SW, Room 10276, Washington, DC 20410.