APHA backs White House plan to remove lead pipes in next 10 years

Date: Dec 20 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Media Relations, 202-777-3913 

Statement from APHA Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD

The American Public Health Association strongly endorses the Biden Administration plan to remove all lead pipes in the next decade, a long overdue but ambitious effort to reduce potential harms of lead exposure that have adversely impacted millions of children and adults.

More than 10 million American households are connected to water through lead pipes, while some 400,000 schools and child care facilities are at risk from exposure, particularly people in low-income communities. In addition, 24 million housing units have significant lead-based paint hazards. People of color have been disproportionately exposed to these risks.

We welcome the announcement by Vice President Kamala Harris about the administration plan to eliminate lead from water pipes and homes using billions of dollars in funding allocated through the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure law. 

This has been a long time coming. APHA has been saying for many years that the government needed to step up its evaluation and regulation of lead in pipes and paint because of the harm to many people. In 1969, we spoke of the dangers of lead poisoning for children; in 1989, we called for reducing health risks related to environmental lead exposure, and in 2008 we urged a global ban on lead use in residential indoor and outdoor paints, including children’s products, among other declarations.

Eliminating people’s exposure to lead is a public health priority. This is a groundbreaking step to alleviate these kind of health risks for years to come.

Under the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency will be writing new regulations to protect communities from lead in drinking water while other federal agencies will be involved in carrying out the plan and developing new testing requirements. Billions of dollars are allocated for the plan, to ensure that all communities benefit.

In recent years, the terrible water contamination in Flint, MI exposed residents – including more than 9,000 children – to dangerous levels of lead and primarily impacted residents of color and those of low-income. The program will focus its work on historically disadvantaged communities.

The White House initiative is a step forward in ensuring that doesn’t happen again anywhere in the country.

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The American Public Health Association champions the health of all people and all communities. We are the only organization that combines a 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. Learn more at www.apha.org.