The Environmental Protection Agency held “listening sessions” this week to hear public comment on Executive Order 13777, which requires an EPA Task Force to recommend “specific rules that should be considered for repeal, replacement and modification.” Monday afternoon was devoted to TSCA regulations on Lead Exposure Reduction, addressing implementation of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Program, Lead Abatement Program, Residential Lead-based Paint Disclosure Rule, and Residential Hazard Standards for Lead in Paint, Dust and Soil.EPA, Don’t roll back lead safeguards
Maureen Swanson, Director of Learning Disabilities Association of America’s Healthy Children Project delivered the following statement.
Thank you for this opportunity to comment. My name is Maureen Swanson with the Learning Disabilities Association of America. LDA is the country’s oldest and largest membership-based learning disabilities organization. We are headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA with state chapters across the country.
What do we now know about lead?
We know that there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. We know that even extremely low levels of lead exposure to children can cause neurological damage leading to learning disabilities, lowered IQs and attention disorders. Scientists link low levels of lead exposure in toddlers to declines in math and reading test scores when the children reach elementary school.
We know that millions more children in the United States are exposed to lead and are likely to have elevated blood lead levels than we previously thought.
We know that lead in water pipes and in old paint affects children and families in their homes and schools in cities and towns in almost every state.
One in six children in the U.S. has a learning or developmental disability. These disorders pose lifelong challenges and costs to children and families, and to schools and society.
On average, it costs twice as much to educate a child with a learning or developmental disability as it does to educate a child without one. When not provided with necessary supports and accommodations, adolescents with learning disabilities are much more likely to drop out of high school, have problems with substance abuse, and wind up in the juvenile justice system. High school graduates with learning disabilities are much more likely to be unemployed and have trouble keeping a job.
It is ridiculous and abhorrent that EPA would even consider eliminating or reducing lead abatement programs. Cutting these programs would deliberately put America’s children in harm’s way.
Once children are lead poisoned, it is too late. We have to prevent exposures in the first place.
We know that more children will be at risk for learning disabilities and attention disorders if these programs are not kept intact and expanded.
We need stronger, health-based standards for lead. We need more funding for these lead abatement programs, not less. We need this Administration to do more to protect America’s children from lead, not less.