Senate Task Force On Lead Announces 5 Bill Package To Require Lead Testing, Reduce Lead Exposure Of Children
On May 7, Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) and legislative members of the Senate Task Force on Lead Exposure held a press conference to discuss the legislative recommendations that were part of Lead Exposure Risks and Response in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure.
In addition to Sen. Yudichak, the legislative members of the task force included Senators Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) and Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming).
“The members of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure, created by Senate Resolution 33 , have worked tirelessly to analyze the public health threat of lead exposure and their report underscores that lead exposure is an issue in every Pennsylvania county,” said Sen. Yudichak, Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “We come together today, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to advance the legislative policy recommendations put forth by the Joint State Government Commission that will better protect Pennsylvania children from the risks of lead exposure and lead poisoning.”
The advisory committee and task force made the following recommendations, several of which are being addressed through legislation announced at the press conference:
-- Require universal blood screenings for children;
-- Mandate inspections/certifications of child-care facilities with vulnerable populations;
-- Ensure safe housing is available to families through a residential rental property certification program;
-- Establish a statewide rental housing registry;
-- Establish a lead abatement grant program to assist property owners in conducting lead abatement;
-- Establish an interagency council to coordinate implementation of lead prevention programs and policies among the relevant state agencies;
-- Require all school drinking water systems to be inspected and certified;
-- Clarify plumbing system lead ban;
-- Permit municipal authorities operating public drinking water system to replace lateral lead service lines;
-- Require lead service line replacements and restrict partial lead water service line replacements;
Adopt the Uniform Property Maintenance Code; and
-- Provide guidance on private well construction.
Senators Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and John Yudichak (D-Luzerne) have introduced Senate Bill 312, which would require universal blood testing for children. Senate Bill 312 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
“We have known for a while now how debilitating lead exposure is to the health and development of children. Recent revelations of lead tainted water in schools and homes have raised additional alarms,” said Sen. Baker. “There is an obligation to have every child tested, in order to find out who has been affected, to monitor and treat those who have, and to locate the source of contamination so preventative measures can be taken.”
Sen. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) has introduced Senate Bill 39, which will require lead testing at child daycare programs. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to include lead testing of water, paint, soil and dust in the licensing process for child daycare programs. Senate Bill 39 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
“My bill, Senate Bill 39, aims to protect children in day care programs by ensuring the facilities where they play and learn at the earliest ages are tested for lead,” said Sen. Schwank.
Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, will introduce legislation that requires all school drinking water systems to be tested for lead contamination.
“Lead contamination in schools and in public drinking water supplies is a real threat across our state and our nation,” said Sen. Yaw. “It’s unfortunate that schools, a place where our children spend much of their time, can have unsafe levels of lead in their water supply. The bill is one more step we can take to protect our children and school employees from potential health hazards.”
Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) plans to introduce a bill that will establish a statewide rental housing registry.
“Our fundamental job as public officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. With increasingly aging infrastructure throughout our Commonwealth, it’s imperative that we do all we can to help local communities on lead abatement projects,” said Sen. Fontana. “We must also monitor the sources of lead contamination in our public spaces and in private homes, so that people are educated to what degree they may be exposed. As a result of the study recommendations, my legislation will establish a statewide rental housing registry that has been certified as lead free or lead safe so as to allow potential tenants to verify if housing they are considering will be safe for their families.”
Sen. Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) will be introducing legislation that clarifies the plumbing system lead ban.
“Consumer education is key in preventing lead exposure. That’s why I am introducing legislation that would put educational information in the hands of consumers who may be most at risk for led exposure,” said Sen. Stefano.
Among the most significant findings in the report were--
-- Exposure to lead-based paint is the primary cause of lead poisoning and a much wider-spread area of risk than public drinking water systems;
-- While the harmful effects of ingesting or breathing lead-contaminated air, water, soil, and paint are well-known and recognized, there is no known “safe harbor” level of lead in the bloodstream that can be considered acceptable;
-- Children are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning, which can cause neurological damage, organ damage and death, but adults and the elderly can also suffer health concerns from lead exposure;
-- Many schools do not have their own private drinking water sources and receive their drinking water from public community water systems. Once the water leaves the public system, it can be exposed to lead via older service lines to the building, and interior plumbing and fixtures that may have been in place since the building was constructed. Older school buildings, particularly those constructed before 1960, have a substantial risk of containing internal lead drinking water distribution systems and lead paint;
-- Regulations governing child care facilities address lead-paint activities as they occur in such facilities, but do not require lead inspections or certification in order to obtain or maintain licensure;
-- Drinking water supply systems are responsible for water lines from the source to the property line of a home or business. The service lines from the “curb to the meter” and the plumbing and fixtures are owned by and the responsibility of the property owner. It is estimated that at least 160,000 of these service lines made of lead exist in Pennsylvania, connecting to homes, schools and daycare facilities; and
-- Private wells are not subject to state regulation, and few municipalities have guidelines for safe construction and connection of water lines to the home or business.
[Posted: May 7, 2019]
|Go To Preceding Article Go To Next Article|