Monday, April 29, 2019

Senate Task Force On Lead Releases Report Recommending Universal Lead Testing For Children, Statewide Lead Abatement Program, Test All School Water

On April 29, the Joint State Government Committee released the final report of the Senate Task Force On Lead recommending universal lead testing for children, establishing a statewide Lead Abatement Program funded by a surcharge on paint and requiring school drinking water systems to be inspected and certified as protecting children from lead.
The report was a result of Senate Resolution 33 sponsored by Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Minority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, which passed the Senate in June of 2017.
The resolution also created an advisory committee of state and local agency representatives and other experts that helped to prepare the report.
“With the report, we are one step closer to developing a more comprehensive lead assessment and remediation strategy in Pennsylvania,” said Sen. Yudichak.  “It is now time for the General Assembly to come together and pass the legislative recommendations put forth by the task force so that we can protect Pennsylvanians, especially our children, from the dangers of lead exposure.”
Press Conference
On May 7, Senators John Yudichak (D-Luzerne), Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny), Judy Schwank (D-Berks), Pat Stefano (R-Fayette) and Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) will hold a press conference to discuss the findings in the report and legislative recommendations.
The press conference will be held in the Capital Media Center starting at 9:30.
Among the most significant findings in the report were--
-- Exposure to lead-based paint is the primary cause of lead poisoning and a much wider-spread area of risk than public drinking water systems;
-- While the harmful effects of ingesting or breathing lead-contaminated air, water, soil, and paint are well-known and recognized, there is no known “safe harbor” level of lead in the bloodstream that can be considered acceptable;
-- Children are at the greatest risk of lead poisoning, which can cause neurological damage, organ damage and death, but adults and the elderly can also suffer health concerns from lead exposure;
-- Many schools do not have their own private drinking water sources and receive their drinking water from public community water systems. Once the water leaves the public system, it can be exposed to lead via older service lines to the building, and interior plumbing and fixtures that may have been in place since the building was constructed. Older school buildings, particularly those constructed before 1960, have a substantial risk of containing internal lead drinking water distribution systems and lead paint;
-- Regulations governing child care facilities address lead-paint activities as they occur in such facilities, but do not require lead inspections or certification in order to obtain or maintain licensure;
-- Drinking water supply systems are responsible for water lines from the source to the property line of a home or business. The service lines from the “curb to the meter” and the plumbing and fixtures are owned by and the responsibility of the property owner.  It is estimated that at least 160,000 of these service lines made of lead exist in Pennsylvania, connecting to homes, schools and daycare facilities; and
-- Private wells are not subject to state regulation, and few municipalities have guidelines for safe construction and connection of water lines to the home or business.
Other Recommendations
Other legislative recommendations made in the report include--
-- Mandate inspections/certifications of child-care facilities and facilities with vulnerable populations;
-- Ensure safe housing is available to families with young children;
-- Establish a statewide rental housing registry;
-- Establish an interagency council to coordinate implementation of lead prevention programs and policies among the relevant state agencies;
-- Clarify plumbing system lead ban;
-- Permit municipal authorities operating public drinking water systems to replace lateral lead service lines; and
-- Require lead service line replacements and restrict partial lead water service line replacements.
And these non-legislative recommendations--
-- Adopt the Uniform Property Maintenance Code; and
-- Provide guidance on private wells
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