Governor Lamont Proposes Legislation To Strengthen Connecticut’s Standards on Childhood Lead Poisoning
Governor’s Budget Proposal Includes $70 Million for Home Remediation Projects
HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont announced that he has introduced a legislative proposal that will help alleviate the risks associated with lead poisoning among children and align Connecticut’s standards with federal guidance.
“For too long, Connecticut has failed to address the problem of lead poisoning in our children, a problem that impacts most deeply minority families and disadvantaged communities of our state,” Governor Lamont said. “Childhood lead poisoning has catastrophic impacts on health and development, including irreversible learning and developmental disabilities. Two years ago, 2,994 young children had enough lead in their blood that the CDC would have recommended an investigation of their homes. Our statutes required only 120 investigations. That means thousands of children are not receiving the treatment and health interventions that they need. Connecticut’s standards for lead testing and treatment fall well behind the best practices and the time is now to take action.”
The governor’s proposal, House Bill 5045, includes steps that will strengthen early intervention in instances of lead poisoning by gradually reducing the blood lead level that triggers parental notifications and home inspections to more closely align with the Centers for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations, which New Haven has already adopted. Additionally, the bill would empower the Connecticut Department of Public Health to require more frequent testing of children living in cities and towns where exposure to lead is most common. Those changes will ensure the families of children with unsafe blood lead levels receive appropriate educational materials, the homes of those children are inspected and remediated when appropriate, and the children themselves receive any required care.
To launch the program, Governor Lamont’s fiscal year 2023 budget adjustment proposal includes an investment of $70 million in funding that Connecticut received from the American Rescue Plan Act, which was approved by Congress last year to assist in the country’s recovery from the pandemic. This funding will not only help cover any municipal costs associated with the revised standards, but also help property owners and landlords in vulnerable communities undertake lead abatement and remediation projects before a child is harmed. Those projects will use local contractors, fueling the state’s economy.
Governor Lamont has directed the Connecticut Department of Public Health to develop the proposed program in coordination with the Connecticut Department of Housing and local health departments.
Connecticut is also due to receive $150 million to identify and replace lead service lines for drinking water over the next five years through the bipartisan federal infrastructure bill.
“House Bill 5045 proactively moves Connecticut toward doing a better job of protecting our children from lead poisoning and being better aligned with national standards,” Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Manisha Juthani said. “The science and understanding of the effects of lead have greatly changed since the last statutes were adopted and this has forced us to face the fact that even low levels of exposure can be devastating to children.”
“We applaud Governor Lamont’s leadership on this bill and for making one of his priorities protecting Connecticut’s children from the dangers of lead poisoning,” New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said. “I am proud that a new, more rigorous lead inspection and enforcement program that we launched in New Haven has provided a model to expand these critically important protections to every child in the state.”
“In New Haven, we are currently combating lead exposure through a robust prevention approach,” Maritza Bond, health director for the City of New Haven, said. “We strongly support the legislation proposed by Governor Lamont to dedicate funding towards these efforts which will allow us to both continue and expand our program while providing the opportunity for communities throughout the State of Connecticut to implement similar or the same prevention strategies. It is critical that we continue to address this concern in the Elm City and eliminate lead risk for all developing children throughout the state.”
The legislation is currently under consideration by the General Assembly’s Public Health Committee. It is scheduled to be the subject of a public hearing on March 7 at 9:00 a.m.