(Albany) - Today, State Senator Gustavo Rivera’s bill, Dakota’s Law (S5024B), which would establish a comprehensive system of measures that prevent and address instances of elevated blood lead levels in children, passed the State Senate.
This bill aims to prevent and address childhood lead poisoning and exposure by requiring lead screenings at every routine visit or annually for children until the age of 6 years old. Health care providers will also provide parents or guardians of children guidance on lead poisoning prevention, including their right to an inspection if the child is an area of high risk. The bill will also require pre-k and kindergarten institutions to check if their enrolling students have been screened for lead exposure and provide them with educational materials on lead poisoning. This is the first part of Dakota’s Law, a multi-bill effort to enhance New York’s childhood lead poisoning prevention measures.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead from infancy until age six. This incredible effort, spearheaded by the tireless work of Ms. Tiesha Jones, will make a real difference in the lives of millions of children and parents in New York. We must do everything in our power to end lead poisoning in New York State and ensure our children are living in safe and healthy environments."
Dakota’s Law was written with Ms. Tiesha Jones, Senator Rivera’s constituent, based on her and her child’s experience with elevated blood lead levels. Ms. Jones was living in a NYCHA apartment with her family and took Dakota to the doctor for appropriate testing at the required ages, 12- and 24-months-old. Upon changing doctors at age 4, she was offered a lead screening and within this time frame, Dakota’s blood lead levels increased from 5 micrograms to 45. This left Dakota with permanent developmental challenges that affect her education.
The passage of this bill builds on the successful effort by Senator Rivera to lower New York’s State’s action level from 10 micrograms to 5, in accordance with recommendations from the United States Center for Disease Control. Children under 6 years old whose blood lead levels reach 10 micrograms face developmental toxicity, or permanent damage, due to lead exposure. By taking action when a child has a blood lead level of 5 micrograms, we prevent permanent damage by addressing the source of lead exposure and preventing lead poisoning.
Watch my floor speech here.