Parents have a right to know: New York Pending Bill Aims to Prevent Childhood Lead Exposure and Close Regulatory Loophole

This Mother's and Father’s Day let’s help end the 100% preventable childhood toxic lead exposure; every child deserves a safe, lead-free home

The science is clear: there is no safe level of lead exposure. The good news is that lead poisoning is 100% preventable.

At the Learning Disabilities Association of New York (LDA), we know that there is no excuse for lead poisoning, which continues to be a serious concern for New York families.

For more than 40 years, I have worked as an educational and disability rights advocate. I have collaborated with many dedicated parents, educators, medical professionals, and public policymakers to prevent lead poisoning in our children.

Federal law requires sellers to disclose the existence of lead-based paint “when they know about it.”  However, neither that law nor our current state law mandates the testing that would provide sellers with this information. Because of this legislative gap, properties are often rented or sold without disclosure of any lead-based paint hazards. Testing is the missing step to ensure renters and buyers get this critical information. Tenants and buyers have a right to know to protect their families from preventable lead poisoning.

The proposed bill, S2353 (Kavanagh)/A4820 (Rivera), would require testing of pre-1978 housing and provide that missing step to protect the health of millions of New Yorkers.

Families must be informed about the dangers of lead poisoning and be vigilant in recognizing the dangers and effects of lead poisoning to children’s growth and development. The World Health Organization continues to stress that young children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning because they absorb 4–5 times as much ingested lead as adults from a given source. Lead poisoning is irreversible and can lead to a lifetime of health and cognitive issues, including slowed growth and development, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and lifelong impacts on the brain and nervous system. Studies also link lead poisoning to attentional issues, aggression, juvenile incarceration, and increased school dropout rates.

We can eliminate lead poisoning if we work together.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, let us make sure we are providing the laws and resources for parents to help protect their children from lead poisoning, and do our part to ensure that we have removed this preventable danger. All children deserve to be safe in their homes, reach their full potential, and lead happy and healthy lives.

For more information on lead including what you can do to protect your family, visit the Healthy Children Project lead page.

Kathryn is the president of the Learning Disabilities Association of New York, the nation’s oldest learning disability advocacy organization.

Established in 2008, Earthjustice’s Northeast Office, located in New York City, is at the forefront of issues at the intersection of energy, environmental health, and social justice.

Earthjustice’s Toxic Exposure & Health Program uses the power of the law to ensure that all people have safe workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools; have access to safe drinking water and food; and live in homes that are free of hazardous chemicals.