February 26, 2024

HUD: CDC, EPA & HUD Announce Interagency Commitments to More Robust Collaboration on Addressing Risks of Exposures to Lead

Agreements Solidify Agencies’ Dedication to a Whole of Government Approach to Preventing Lead Poisoning

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced two complementary agreements to further their “whole of government” approach to strengthen these agencies’ shared work in ensuring that children, especially those at high risk, are not exposed to human health risks from lead hazards.

These two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) support commitments made in the Lead and Paint Action PlanEPA’s Strategic PlanHUD’s Strategic Plan, and HHS’s Strategic Plan, which seek to reduce lead exposures locally with a focus on underserved communities and promote environmental justice through a whole of government approach.

One MOU expands, updates, and reaffirms a 1997 agreement between EPA and HUD to coordinate their enforcement efforts addressing lead-based paint hazards in housing.

“With this agreement, we will collaborate across the federal government to enforce the laws that aim to ensure the healthy housing future that American children deserve,” said Matthew Ammon, Director of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, “HUD is proud to join our federal partners at EPA to better align our enforcement efforts and ensure that we are protecting families – especially families with limited resources – from lead-based paint hazards in their home.”

“EPA is committed to working with our federal partners to protect children from the harmful effects of lead poisoning, which remains far too prevalent in communities across America,” said David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s agreement demonstrates that EPA and HUD will enforce the law fairly and aggressively to protect children, particularly those living in overburdened and underserved communities, from exposure to lead-based paint in their homes.”

The second MOU, signed by EPA, HUD and CDC launches a pilot program in the agencies’ Region 3, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, to facilitate information sharing about communities with high blood lead levels or higher lead exposure risks, to help them focus their respective and collaborative efforts working in communities with the greatest risks. The agencies plan to use the knowledge gained from the pilot to expand the scope of this effort.

“HUD is pleased to collaborate with its EPA and CDC partners on this pilot that we hope will provide the basis for an enhanced national framework for sharing and using information on the sources of lead exposures at the community and even neighborhood levels,” said HUD Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes Director Matthew Ammon. “HUD has a particular interest in using the shared data to facilitate its engagement with state and local lead hazard control programs, healthy homes programs, and housing rehabilitation programs, for the purposes of improving its targeting of funding, conducting special projects, or other collaborations.”

“Our three agencies will work together to identify, reach, and assist communities most at risk from exposure to lead,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “Through this pilot program, we will develop more effective processes for sharing actionable information on lead exposure, with the goal of alleviating the negative health impacts that still burden too many people across our region.”

“All children deserve to grow up without lead burdening their minds and bodies,” said Aaron Bernstein, Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, “We are committed to working together to leave no child behind and put an end to lead poisoning.”

Over 1 million children in the United States suffer from the irreversible impacts of lead poisoning, including reduced intelligence, behavioral and learning disabilities, and effects on many other body systems; new cases continue to be diagnosed every year. Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Adults with exposure to lead can develop symptoms such as high blood pressure, memory loss and reduced motor skills. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. They can be exposed from multiple sources and may experience irreversible and life-long health effects.

More than 34 million homes in the US have lead paint somewhere in the building. About 3.3 million homes in the US have children less than six years of age facing one or more lead-based paint hazards, including over 2 million low-income households.

The EPA-HUD Memorandum of Understanding Lead Paint Compliance and Enforcement and the EPA Region 3-HUD-CDC Memorandum of Understanding for sharing of datacan both be found on EPA’s Enforcing Lead Laws and Regulations webpage.

You can find out more about identifying and addressing housing health and safety hazards, including those from lead, on HUD’s Healthy Homes website.

Learn more about EPA’s efforts to reduce lead exposure and help protect children from lead paint by identifying and reporting lead paint violations to EPA, or identifying and reporting violations, especially in assisted housing to HUD. HUD, EPA, and HHS are supporting the 2019 Federal Lead Action Plan, which was designed to reduce exposure to lead and improve children’s health.

This post was originally published here.