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Lead Exposures

The purpose of the Lead Exposures Subcommittee is to facilitate interagency coordination around childhood lead exposures and related effects, including research activities and sharing of information with the public, in order to better understand and prevent disease and disabilities in children from lead.

Due to significant federal regulatory action, the United States has made tremendous progress in reducing lead exposure, resulting in lower childhood blood lead levels over time. From 1988 to 2014, the percentage of children aged 1–5 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reference level for lead (blood lead levels less than or equal to 5 micrograms per deciliter) declined from 25.6 percent to 1.9 percent. Blood lead levels fell dramatically for all racial and ethnic groups. However, despite this decline, lead exposure remains a significant health concern for children, causing serious neurological, cognitive, and other effects.

child peeling old paint off window

Today, about 3.6 million U.S. families with a child under age 6 live in a home with structures, such as windows, doors, stairs railings, and porches, that contain lead-based paint. Children can be exposed to dangerous levels of lead when this paint chips or flakes off and is breathed in or eaten. There are approximately 500,000 children ages 1 to 5 years with blood lead levels higher than the CDC reference level. Lead exposure is not equal among all children–national data suggest minority children, children living in families below the poverty level, and children living in older housing have significantly higher risk for elevated blood lead levels. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.

The goals of this subcommittee include:

  • Recommend to the President’s Task Force coordinated federal strategies to prevent childhood lead exposures and associated harmful effects
  • Disseminate information on lead exposure and its effects to diverse audiences, including policy makers, healthcare providers, the general public and other stakeholders
  • Coordinate and disseminate an inventory of federal actions to reduce childhood lead exposures

Current Priority Activity: Federal Lead Action Plan Implementation

The Task Force Lead Subcommittee is helping to coordinate across the relevant federal agencies as they work to implement the goals of the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts.

Accomplishments

The Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts

This Action Plan is for reducing lead exposure through collaboration among federal agencies and with a range of stakeholders, including states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents. The Action Plan will help federal agencies work strategically and collaboratively to reduce exposure to lead and improve children’s health. It is the product of the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children (Task Force), the focal point for federal collaboration to promote and protect children’s environmental health.

Lead Action Plan (8MB)
Trump Administration Unveils Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposure

Key Federal Programs to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Eliminate Associated Health Impacts

Key Federal Programs to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures

This report of the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children catalogs federal efforts to understand, prevent, and reduce various sources of lead exposure among children. The report, Key Federal Programs to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Eliminate Associated Health Impacts, provides a starting point for a comprehensive federal lead strategy, and will enable increased coordination and collaboration among federal agencies to further protect the nation's children.

Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning: A Federal Strategy Targeting Lead Paint Hazards

In 2000, the Task Force released a set of recommendations aimed at eliminating childhood lead poisoning in the United States. The report focuses primarily on expanding efforts to correct lead paint hazards (especially in low-income housing), a major source of lead exposure for children.

Resources

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