30 Nov 2021
Joint Public Hearing: To discuss Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention in New York StateLegislative Office Building
Van Buren Hearing Room A, 2nd Floor
Joint – Senate Standing Committee on Health
Chair: Senator Gustavo Rivera
Senate Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development
Chair: Senator Brian Kavanagh
Public Hearing: To discuss Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention in New York State
Place: : Van Buren Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building, 2 nd Floor, Albany, New York
Time: 10:00 A.M.
Contact: Jay Baez (518) 455-3398
Media Contact: Valeria Munt (646) 259-5923; Stanley Davis (917) 273-7667
ORAL TESTIMONY BY INVITATION ONLY
Subject: Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention in New York State
Purpose: To hear from stakeholders about how New York State can address through legislation the pervasive and persistent threat of childhood lead poisoning and to assess the resources needed for local and state agencies to comply with state and federal prevention programs.
The Legislature last held a statewide public hearing on childhood lead poisoning in April 1994. Since then, childhood lead poisoning has continued to occur despite existing programs designed to prevent lead poisoning. Scientific understanding of lead exposure has led to changes in state law to lower the mandated action level on blood lead levels from 10 ug/dL to 5 ug/dL. The COVID-19 pandemic started just as the new action levels were being implemented, overwhelming county health departments and requiring children to spend significantly more time at home and indoors. In March 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report1 that cited a 56.7% drop in childhood lead testing in New York State counties outside of New York City; and an 86.3% drop in New York City from April 2019 to April 2020 due to coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders.
In August 2019, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli issued an Audit and Report on the Department of Health’s oversight on the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.2 The report identified the following issues:
- significant flaws in reporting;
- inadequate oversight and compliance with federal and state requirements;
- lack of adequate staff to perform follow-up care; and
- lack of necessary staff to perform primary source lead inspections of residences and buildings, lead risk assessments, exposure elimination, and repairs.
Children whose families live with lead paint indoors, on porches, or with lead water service lines have possibly been further exposed to lead in the last year and a half. The CDC has noted concerns that fewer families accessed pediatric preventive care during the peak of the pandemic. These two factors could increase unidentified cases of lead exposure and poisoning in New York.
As science continues to demonstrate that there is no safe level of exposure to lead, childhood lead poisoning continues to be a widespread and pervasive threat in many communities across our state. New York currently leads the nation in the total number of adolescents identified with elevated Blood Lead Levels (BLLs). This scourge particularly impacts children of color, children living in poorly maintained housing, and those from low-income communities. The purpose of this hearing is to learn best practices and what legislative solutions should be considered to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in New York State.
Persons invited to present pertinent testimony at the above hearing must complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. The reply must be fully completed and returned in order to be notified of an emergency postponement or unforeseen cancellation.
Oral testimony will be limited to 3 minutes. All testimony will be under oath. In preparing the order of witnesses, the committees will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times, given exceptional circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to committee staff as early as possible.
Twenty-Five copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. Additionally, written testimony should be submitted via email two days before the hearing.
In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Legislature, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to the Legislature’s facilities and activities.