Let’s Be Clear: No Lead for Kids
There is no safe level of lead for any child, and expectant moms are also affected. Children of color, and children from low-income communities, tend to have the highest exposure levels. We know this for many reasons, including required blood-lead level testing of young children.
But we also know that exposure to lead is preventable.
Here is a radical thought: what if the public health system worked to eliminate all sources of lead before, not after, children were tested and found exposed. Shouldn’t the nation invest in seeking out and eliminating all sources of lead?
In early December, a group of public health experts, healthy schools and child health advocates, educators, and government officials, gathered for a two day workshop in Washington, D.C., that was dedicated to devising a strategy to eliminate lead exposures in schools and child care facilities. The report of this well facilitated workshop, Eliminating Lead Risks in Schools and Child Care Facilities: A United and Urgent Call to Action for Children, is available. What is clear, is that a way to lead free school environments exits. What’s lacking is leadership, and the resources and the will to act.
Workshop participants agreed that public and private entities must work together to prevent lead exposures from paint, water, products, soil, and equipment in schools and child care facilities. They recognized that there are existing programs and campaigns to build on, and clear steps that must be taken. And that all sources of lead in these settings must be addressed with united advocacy, new resources, and new programs.
The roadmap to achieve lead elimination goals developed at the workshop starts with calls for a robust federal strategy that addresses schools and child care settings and for many diverse efforts to find and eliminate lead before, not after, it harms children. A new federal strategy is under development, but its full scope is not yet known. Therefore, the workshop also devised a larger agenda for the states and cities, local school districts, the private sector and parents and other stakeholders.
What you can do.
First, read the full report Eliminating Lead Risks in Schools and Child Care Facilities: A United and Urgent Call to Action for Children.
Second, take a look at the free resources to help you create your own group.
Third, build out an action agenda to get ahead of lead. Some good starting tips are below.
Get Ahead of Lead - Sample Resources to Use/Share
EPA’s Lead Outreach Materials
CDC’s Lead Prevention Tips
Healthy School Network’s Parent Guide to Lead in School Drinking Water
Healthy Purchasing for Healthy Schools (interior paints, electronics) A Guidance Memo
Healthy School Network’s NYS Safe School Drinking Water Law: A Report on First Findings