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You've heard about the lead poisoning crisis in Flint, Michigan, but the problem of lead exposure is far more widespread, and it comes from more than drinking water.
The historic widespread use of lead in gasoline, paint, and metal products contaminates our water, soil, dust, and the air we breathe. Every year, it continues to enter our communities from new sources. You can find lead in the wheel weights that fall off our cars' tires, our jewelry, lead-glazed cookware, certain cosmetics, and the aviation fuel used in many small aircraft.
Lead is a potent neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure. Prolonged exposure is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and reduced fertility, and government scientists have concluded that lead is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."
The reported number of children poisoned by lead around the country is staggering and the effects are long term.
Over half a million children in the United States have levels of lead in their blood high enough to require medical case management, according to CDC estimates. In Minnesota, more than 10% of children have high blood lead levels; in Syracuse, NY, high blood lead levels afflict more than 40% of children. In young children, elevated blood lead levels are associated with irreversible loss of IQ along with diminished academic abilities and problem behaviors.
We can't afford to continue responding to these lead contamination crises one at a time. We must is prevent lead exposure before it harms our communities.
Instead, sluggish federal agencies responsible for keeping lead out of our communities act as if the longstanding problem of lead pollution has been solved. This is far from the case.
We have a unique opportunity NOW to call on the Environmental Protection Agency to take a comprehensive approach to ending our ongoing use of lead.
It is time for EPA to finally look comprehensively at the burden on children and families from lead in products that are still being sold.
Lead poisoning is clearly not a problem of the past. Add your voice to our call to protect kids by preventing lead exposure. We're urging the EPA to make lead a priority under the newly reformed federal Toxic Substances Control Act.
To: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The newly reformed Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) gives you the authority to protect public health by evaluating the safety of chemical substances and restricting substances that pose unreasonable risks.
The CDC estimates that over half a million children in the United States have levels of lead in their blood high enough to require medical case management. EPA cannot just sit back while these tens of thousands of children suffer the devastating effects of lead poisoning.
With the reform of TSCA, Congress gave EPA the authority and the mandate to protect children from toxic exposures. Now it must use that authority. Tackling the epidemic of lead exposure should be EPA's highest priority under the new TSCA.
I strongly urge EPA to do everything in its power to safeguard children from the continuing uses of lead in products and materials sold in this country. Please take the first step in protecting the next generation of children by prioritizing lead as a chemical for immediate health risk evaluation and action under the reformed Toxic Substances Control Act this year.