WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-IN), along with U.S. Representative Jesús "Chuy" García (D-IL-04), today introduced the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to update its lead poisoning prevention measures to reflect modern science and ensure that families and children living in federally-assisted housing are protected from the devastating consequences of lead poisoning.

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“Children continue to be at risk from lead poisoning in the very place they call home. We have to do more to address this health hazard before it harms more children,” Durbin said. “Senator Young, Congressman García, and I are leading the push to reform outdated federal housing standards and put additional prevention measures in place. There is nothing more important than the health and safety of our children.”

“All children deserve the opportunity to grow up without the fear of harmful toxins in their home, but sadly lead exposure continues to be an ongoing problem for millions of children with devastating long-term effects. The Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act will help ensure the health and safety of our children by improving federal lead poisoning detection and prevention measures,” said Young.

“All children deserve a safe home. But in neighborhoods with older housing stock, the risk of lead poisoning remains high, and that risk disproportionately falls on Latino, Black, and other underserved communities. I’m proud to join Senator Durbin in reintroducing the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act. Current law requires only a quick visual check for lead hazards in federally assisted housing until a child is already sick—and that’s too little, too late. Our bill will ensure proactive, thorough testing is performed for lead paint hazards in federally assisted housing where children may potentially be exposed,” said García.

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Lead hazards in a home pose serious health and safety threats. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead hazards such as dust and chips from deteriorated lead-based paint are the most common source of lead exposure for U.S. children. A 2021 survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that lead-based paint is in 34.6 million U.S. homes, 89 percent of which were built before 1978––the year lead-based paint use in housing was banned in the United States. While the available science for detecting and remediating lead hazards in a home has evolved significantly in the last two decades, federal laws and regulations continue to lag far behind, leaving vulnerable Americans—of whom a disproportionate amount are minorities—at the risk of being exposed to lead before any intervention is triggered. Left unaddressed, lead poisoning can cause long-term and irreversible health, neurological, and behavioral problems in children. Most importantly, lead poisoning prevention preserves a child’s ability to reach their full potential.

Under HUD’s current lead hazard regulations, visual assessments are used to identify the presence of lead in a housing unit. However, while visual assessments—which usually entail identifying chipped and peeling paint—can show signs of lead hazards, modern scientific research has proven that such assessments are profoundly inadequate for identifying the most common sources of lead paint in a home: in intact painted surfaces such as window sashes and windowsills. In order to comprehensively determine the presence of lead and adequately protect children from lead poisoning, HUD’s policy must shift from identification and management to primary prevention.

Specifically, the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act would ensure that families and children living in federally assisted housing are protected from the devastating consequences of lead poisoning by adopting primary prevention measures to protect children in low-income housing, including:

  • Prohibiting the use of visual assessments for low-income housing constructed prior to 1978 and require the use of risk assessments, a more accurate evaluation tool to identify lead hazards, before a family moves into the home;

  • Providing a process for families to relocate on an emergency basis, without penalty or the loss of assistance, if a lead hazard is identified in the home and the landlord fails to control the hazard within 30 days of being notified of the presence of lead; and

  • Requiring landlords to disclose the presence of lead if lead hazards are found in the home.

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