April 26, 2019

Gillibrand, Schumer Announce New Push to Protect Families from Lead Poisoning and Fund Epa Programs That Help New Yorkers Detect And Remove Lead From Their Communities

EPA’s Lead Abatement, Inspection, and Enforcement Programs Give Communities Vital Federal Funds to Find and Remove Poisonous Lead-Based Paint in New York Homes, Clean Up Lead-Contaminated Sites Including Schools, and Hold Local Contractors, Landlords, and Property Managers Accountable; Gillibrand Leads Bipartisan Coalition of 27 Senate Colleagues to Ensure these Vital EPA’s Programs Receive the Funding They Need; Senators’ Push Comes as President’s Proposed Budget Cuts EPA Funding by Over 30%

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced their renewed push to secure much-needed funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead based paint abatement, inspection, and enforcement programs. This push comes as the President’s proposed budget cuts EPA funding by over 30 percent. The EPA lead abatement, inspection and enforcement programs are essential to helping communities find and remove dangerous lead hazards from homes, older facilities where children are routinely present, and other lead-contaminated sites. The programs also hold contractors, landlords and property managers accountable for protecting communities from exposure to lead.

“No New Yorker should be at risk for lead poisoning, but unfortunately, there are too many older homes and buildings in our state that may still contain lead. That’s why I am leading the push to ensure that EPA lead abatement, inspection, and enforcement programs are adequately funded by Congress,” said Senator Gillibrand“These programs have been instrumental in helping New Yorkers detect and remove lead hazards from their environments, and it would be a dangerous mistake to undercut this funding. I will continue to fight for funding that helps ensure that children in communities across the state are protected from dangerous lead exposure.”

“Lead poisoning is an irreversible, preventable tragedy that robs too many families and children of their future. We must do everything we can to eliminate the scourge of lead from our homes and communities, starting by boosting federal resources to address this toxic metal and getting them in the hands of our Upstate communities that need them most,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today I’m urging Congress to increase federal funding for the EPA programs designed to combat the omnipresent threat of lead. We need to act fast, and we need to act now, to identify and remove lead-based threats from our communities before anyone else is put in harm’s way.”

The most common form of lead exposure comes from lead-based paint found in older homes. In both adults and children, lead poisoning decreases performance of the nervous system. Lead is especially dangerous for children under six years old, as exposure can reduce IQ, cause learning disabilities, and create behavioral problems.

Gillibrand and Schumer have long fought to ensure that Upstate New York communities receive the federal support they need to fully remove lead hazards from their homes. As the Senate considers its priorities for next fiscal year’s Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill, Gillibrand is leading a bipartisan coalition of 27 Senate colleagues to ensure that the EPA’s lead abatement, inspection, and enforcement programs receive the necessary funding to inspect homes for possible contamination and help remove lead from affected homes.  

Through these programs, the EPA works in cooperation with states, tribes, and territories to ensure firms are certified and use lead-safe work practices. Current federal law requires certification for all firms that provide renovation, repair, and painting services which disturbs lead based paint in housing and facilities built prior to 1978, and where children are routinely present. Additionally, the EPA can hold renovation contractors, landlords, and property managers accountable for protecting communities from exposure to lead. The EPA also uses its program funding to clean up lead contaminated waste sites to minimize exposure in surrounding areas.

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter is here and below:

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski

Chairman

Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies

522 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Udall

Ranking Member

Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment & Related Agencies

531 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:

As you draft the Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2020, we write to urge you to include robust funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lead based paint abatement, inspection, and enforcement programs.

Blood lead levels have declined by more than 90% since the mid-1970’s – easily one of the great public health achievements in recent history. EPA, along with federal and state partners had worked together to drastically reduce or eliminate the use of lead in paint, gasoline, plumbing pipes, food cans, and a variety of other products to put us on a path towards minimizing human exposure. However, despite a decline in overall exposure, lead poisoning continues to be a problem in places with older homes and aging water supplies. The proposed cuts to EPA’s budget will affect their ability to reduce risk to lead and minimize human exposure keep lead contamination out of these communities.

In both adults and children, lead poisoning decreases performance of the nervous system. At high levels of exposure, lead can severely damage the brain and kidneys and ultimately cause death. For pregnant women, lead may cause miscarriage. Lead is also especially dangerous for children under six years old, as exposure can reduce IQ, cause learning disabilities, and create behavioral problems.

Fortunately, lead poisoning is preventable. Federal law requires that certification is required for all firms (or sole proprietorships) that provide renovation, repair, and painting services which disturbs lead based paint in housing and facilities built prior to 1978 and where children are routinely present. EPA works in cooperation with states, tribes, and territories to ensure firms are certified and use lead-safe work practicesIn October 2017, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance announced more than 100 federal enforcement actions of EPA’s lead based paint regulations completed over the last year that held renovation contractors, landlords, and property managers accountable for protecting communities from exposure to lead. Additionally, EPA uses its program funding to clean up lead contaminated waste sites to minimize exposure in surrounding areas.       

We thank you in advance for your careful consideration and hope you will  ensure that keeping our communities safe from lead continues to be a priority of the federal government by funding these critical EPA programs.

Sincerely,