“Sometimes we fail to look for causes in conspicuous places. As we seek out reasons why our children are having trouble learning in school, tens of thousands of our kids’ futures are being cut down because, in their younger years, they were exposed to lead. For at least two decades, neurological and epidemiological research has told us that lead affects academic performance, classroom behavior, and the rest of life. We know so much more today from more recent research. Now we know that even low levels of lead can cause serious damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention bleakly states: “No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.” Though lead levels have gone down in our cars, our homes, and our children, lead-based paint and lead-laden dust and soil still surround much of our older housing and neighborhoods, holding back the promise of too many children.”
by Tom Vernon and Shelly Yanoff
posted May 15, 2013, on Philadelphia Public School – The Notebook
See the full article at: http://thenotebook.org/blog/135977/getting-lead-out-and-learning-our-hidden-classroom-epidemic
The American Academy of Pediatrics published a new study on May 13, 2013, with data demonstrating that kindergarten-aged reading readiness is negatively impacted by lead exposure. The study found that even children whose blood lead levels were well below 10mg/dL had low reading readiness upon entry to kindergarten. This data indicates lead exposure may have a larger impact on urban education than previous national estimates suggest. The study advises additional collaboration between public health providers, public education providers, and the community is needed.
For the full article, see http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/05/08/peds.2012-2277.
On May 8, the Chicago City Council passed an ordinance that will require contractors applying for permits to certify they will comply with federal lead-safe training requirements and work practices when conducting work that may disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 child-occupied buildings.
For more information on the ordinance, which was proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Joe Moore (49th ward), see the City’s press release at: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/environmental_health/news/2013/may/city_council_passeslead-saferenovationordinance.html
Alderman Harry Osterman (48th ward) also has been a strong advocate for lead poisoning prevention on the state level.
Senator Jack Reed is circulating the letter below requesting that Senate Appropriations Committees of the Subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) and Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHSE) provide $120 million (level funding) to HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and $29 million (fully restored funding) to CDC’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention program.
Securing other Senators’ support for the Reed letter is an important next step toward restoring the CDC program’s funding and maintaining HUD’s current funding. Please take five minutes to make a phone call or email your Senators’ offices – by the end of the day today or tomorrow or no later than Tuesday April 23. The internal Senate deadline is the 24th but you should allow at least a day for the office to decide and take action.
The best form of contact is to telephone the legislative aide who handles health issues in each Senator’s office. Contact information is posted at http://nchh.org/Portals/0/Contents/Senate_Health_Staffers_4.17.2013.xlsx
Email addresses are included, if you would prefer to send an email.
A few talking points:
- Tell the aide that you are requesting that the Senator to sign on to Senator Reed’s letter seeking adequate FY14 funding to prevent childhood lead poisoning.
- If this Senator signed on to a similar letter for FY 13 (Boxer, Cardin, Gillibrand, Hagan, Johanns, Kohl, Levin, Menendez, Mikulski, Reed, Sanders, Stabenow, Whitehouse), express your thanks.
- Describe how families in your state or community have been impacted – negatively by the CDC cut, positively by the CDC funded program before it was cut, or positively by the HUD-funded program.
- Inform the staff person that the point of contact within the Senate for joining the letter is Marc Capuano (Marc_Capuano@reed.senate.gov or 202-224-4642).
Recent CDC data shows progress in reducing blood lead levels (BLLs) among children; however, the numbers remain too high and the differences between the average BLLs of different racial/ethnic and income groups persist. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) April 5, 2013 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) includes an analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which defines children’s blood lead levels (BLLs) of greater than or equal to 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) as “high.” In addition to reporting that 535,000 children have high levels, the CDC’s report also demonstrates the persistence of racial/ethnic and income level disparities in children’s BLLs.
The disparities in BLLs by income and ethnicity have narrowed but remain pronounced. The number of children with blood levels of 5 µg/dL is falling, but the rate of this decline is leveling off. Intense work is needed to end exposure in homes and from other sources. The National Center for Health Housing has called on the CDC to renew its commitment to funding prevention effort. This could include outside-the-clinical-box work, such as enforcing environmental health laws, turning housing officials’ attention to the neighborhoods and property owners posing the greatest risks, and shedding light on the causes of and solutions to lead poisoning.
For the full CDC MMWR, see: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6213a3.htm
More Background on the Data: State-by-state breakdowns of the most recent available surveillance data are available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/data/StateConfirmedByYear1997-2011.htm
New research finds lead is the hidden villain behind violent crime, lower IQs, and even the ADHD epidemic. And fixing the problem is a lot cheaper than doing nothing. Read more in Mother Jones’ January/February 2013 issue.
Chicago Public School students, even those with low levels of lead in their bodies, may experience worsening academic achievement in third grade and significantly higher failure rates on third grade math and reading tests than other third graders, according to a recent study by Anne Evens, PhD. The study was the subject of a cover story in the October 31, 2012 Chicago Reader.