Noting that 60,000 Connecticut children have been exposed to the toxin lead – and that more than 2,000 have levels high enough that they are lead-poisoned — U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty unveiled a bill Monday to help homeowners make their homes safer and better protect children.
“We cannot kick the can down the road and hope the problem goes away. It will not,” DeLauro, a Democrat who represents the 3rd Congressional District, said at a press conference at the New Haven Health Department.
In a May 7 story, C-HIT reported that figures from the state Department of Public Health show that tens of thousands of children are being regularly exposed to lead paint and lead dust – and that tens of thousands of children are not being properly tested for exposure to the toxin.
Damage caused by lead, which can include cognitive, hearing and neurological deficits, among others, is irreversible.
The congresswomen’s legislation — the Healthy Homes Tax Credit Act — would give a $5,000 tax credit to homeowners for lead paint and dust abatement, as well as for asbestos and radon, and remove lead-lined plumbing. The bill is a companion to one introduced earlier this year by U. S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut.
DeLauro and Esty, the latter who represents the 5th Congressional District, pointed out Monday that hundreds of thousands of homes across the state were built before the federal government banned lead paint in 1978.
The walls and ceilings of older homes were often just painted over, which doesn’t prevent the undercover of toxic paint from eventually chipping off and falling onto the floor; even more dangerous is lead-paint dust, created when windows and doors are opened and shut over the years, grinding down the paint to dust, which can be easily ingested or absorbed by crawling babies and toddlers.
Because of the age of the state’s housing stock, the federal government considers Connecticut to have one of the highest lead-poisoning risks in the country.
Although children who live in older, poorer urban areas are most at risk for lead poisoning, DPH numbers show that children have been exposed in West Hartford, East Hartford, New Britain, Stratford, Hamden, Middletown, and many other communities statewide.
The crisis in Flint, Mich., has shone a light on lead-poisoning linked to water, DeLauro said.
DeLauro added, “No community should ever endure what Flint has endured. Every single person in this country deserves to come home to a place where they feel secure, where they do not worry about their health being at risk, where they do not feel afraid.”