Bills to Protect Children from Lead Poisoning Introduced in House and Senate

On March 3, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) introduced the “Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2016” (S. 2631/H.R. 4694) in the Senate and House respectively. The bills would protect children living in federally assisted housing from lead poisoning.

The bills would require HUD to implement preventive measures and revise its blood lead intervention regulations to reflect the level used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bills also would require HUD to issue rules that mandate an initial risk assessment for lead-based hazards in low-income housing constructed prior to 1978 before a family with a child under 6 years old moves in.

More rigorous examination than a mere visual inspection would be required for an initial risk assessment. The bills remove the lead inspection exemption for studio apartments that will be occupied by families with children under 6 years old, and they provide an emergency transfer process for families without penalty or loss of assistance if a lead hazard is found in the home and a child has an elevated blood lead level. Finally, the measures would require the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress with policy proposals on how to better detect and remediate lead hazards in federally assisted housing. The bills would authorize appropriations sufficient to carry out their requirements for five years.

The bills have been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.  Representatives Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) are also cosponsors of H.R. 4694.