Paterson Seeks to Reduce Lead Poisoning Problems
Governor David A. Paterson has expressed his support for new measures that will be taken to improve children's health through the further reduction of childhood exposure to lead poisoning. The measures, to be implemented with existing financial resour - ces and statutory authority, were outlined in a preliminary report issued this week by the Task Force on the Prevention of Childhood Lead Pois - oning, an interagency workgroup Governor Paterson created with Exe - cutive Order No. 21.
"The elimination of lead poisoning, a leading environmental poison of children in New York State, is one of my highest priorities," Governor Paterson said. "I thank the Task Force for working quickly and diligently to identify initial steps that can be taken immediately to further the State's efforts to ensure that every child in New York State has the opportunity to grow up healthy. I look forward to the Task Force's final report next year that will lay out a long-term strategy for the elimination of childhood lead poisoning."
Dust and chips from lead-based paint used in housing units before 1978 are dangerous when swallowed or inhaled, especially for small children and pregnant women. Lead can affect a child's developing nervous system, causing reduced IQ and learning disabilities. The use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978, but more than 85 percent of housing in New York State was built before then.
"While the incidence of childhood lead poisoning is decreasing in New York State, it is time that we eliminate this threat to our children's health once and for all," Governor Paterson continued. "During these difficult economic times, we must find ways for State government to act smarter, more efficiently, and maximize existing resources, and that's what this Task Force has done."
In its preliminary report, the Task Force recommends nine actions that can be taken immediately to strengthen current State lead poisoning prevention efforts:
Connect lead poisoning prevention programs with clean energy and weatherization assistance programs;
Enhance procedures to ensure that family-based child care environments are lead-safe and that consistent protocols are followed for assessing lead hazards in child care facilities;
Increase awareness of lead poisoning among human service providers and other local organizations that work directly with young children at risk for lead poisoning;
Balance housing funding streams to prioritize older homes (built before 1960) and high-risk communities;
Develop targeted education and awareness campaigns emphasizing the importance of housing inspections for lead hazards and childhood blood lead screening;
Work with the State Office of Court Administration and Administrative Judges to assure that lead-paint hazards are remediated;
Facilitate training of Lead-Safe Work Practices by enhancing existing energy services contractor training programs;
Amend the State property maintenance code to require Lead-Safe Work Practices and repair of underlying problems when peeling paint is repaired in housing built before 1978, and train code inspectors on the new requirement; and,
Explore strategies for enhancing compliance with existing State and federal lead hazard notification requirements.