Assembly Advances Measures to Thwart Lead Poisoning

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

(Sacramento) – Two bills today advanced out of the Assembly that will strengthen lead detection in California, particularly with children.  Assembly Bill 247 by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) establishes a Lead Advisory Task Force per a 2016 Independent Review Panel (IRP) recommendation passed unanimously.  Assembly Bill 1316 by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) would improve the blood lead level testing for children ages 0-5 and passed 54-4.

“Exide continues to plague my backyard with the remnants of lead contamination, so this bill is extremely vital to ensure proper cleanup and coordination between state departments,” said Garcia, who also chairs the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. “This measure will bring relief to affected communities, like mine, and ensure timely solutions to major long-term problems.”

Assembly Bill 247 would create a statewide taskforce to review and advise state agencies regarding policies and procedures to reduce lead poisoning.   The task force was recommended by the IRP as a way to improve the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and ensure state agencies work together to share information on lead due to the negative health issues caused by lead exposure. The taskforce would include representatives from: DTSC, Department of Public Health Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Cal/OSHA, air quality management districts, regional water quality control boards, county environmental health departments, worker safety advocates, labor organizations, healthy housing organizations, and impacted communities.

There is no safe exposure to lead. Lead has multiple toxic effects on the human body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 2.5 percent of small children have elevated levels nationwide. The CDC states that almost all U.S. children are at risk for lead poisoning and that, unless communities can prove lead poisoning is not a risk, "our goal is that all children should be screened."

“More than half of the children in California with elevated blood lead levels are not currently screened for lead,” said Quirk.  “To better protect our children from lead poisoning by better evaluating children for their lead exposure risks,  AB 1316 will require the state to better define "risk" in regulation for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, with the goal of informing pediatricians to evaluate children on the most significant lead exposure risks.”

Under the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP), physicians are required to ask one and only one question to evaluate a child’s risk for lead exposure.  Does the child live in a home built to 1978? Assembly Bill 1316 will require the California Department of Public Health to revise its regulations for the CLPPP to redefine the risk assessment for evaluating a child's risk for lead exposure.