• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Congress Tackles Lead Paint Poisoning, Sort of...

Air Date: Week of October 16, 1992

Rebecca Davis reports from Washington on major new legislation to reduce the risk of lead paint poisoning. The bill represents what some are calling an historic compromise between lead paint activists and the housing industry. It adopts a standard of safety short of complete removal of lead paint.

Transcript

CURWOOD: This is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

As the 102nd Congress wrapped up before adjournment, it enacted a number of important environmental measures, including what some call an historic compromise on lead paint poisoning. About one in every six American children has received an unhealthy dose of lead, mostly thanks to its widespread use in house paints until the early 1970's. While many of these children show no outward signs of poisoning, many others have physical and mental impairments. Lead paint has been banned in homes for two decades, but little has been done about the lead remaining in as many as 100 million houses and apartments. From Washington, Rebecca Davis reports on the new agreement.

cutive director of the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.

RYAN: There is the recognition that over half the US housing stock has some lead paint. We can't throw up our hands and panic, or we would all be living in tents. We must take a common - sense approach to this problem, and I think that's what Title X lays out.

DAVIS: For privately-owned property, TITLE X essentially establishes a standard of informed consent. The Act holds the private sector responsible largely for disclosing and informing potential buyers and renters about the possible presence of lead-based paint on the property, and its potential hazards to the health of children. The housing industry supports Title X, because the seller bears no responsibility for the presence of lead paint, as long as the disclosure requirements are fulfilled. The standards are tougher for Federally-owned properties, where the government must in some instances have the lead paint removed. This includes Federal agencies, such as the Resolution Trust Corporation, the nation's largest landlord. The Act also puts a two-year deadline on abatement of lead paint hazards in Federally-assisted housing, although it doesn't provide any funds for compliance. This has some state and local governments concerned. Ann Scott is an environmental lobbyist for the City of New York.

SCOTT: Because the requirements apply to all Federally-assisted housing units, it could potentially take money away from the construction of new affordable housing units. Unless the Federal Government comes up with new money, there will be a shift away from housing construction to lead paint abatement.

DAVIS: Scott says she hopes Congress will pass additional legislation that would fund the management or removal of lead paint. A bill that would have done this through a tax on the lead industry failed this last session. Outgoing California Senator Alan Cranston, who sponsored the Title X legislation, also supports additional funding for lead paint abatement.

CRANSTON: In the long run it's a saving. There've been lawsuits, for example, against the Federal Government where it didn't warn a family that theing units. Unless the Federal Government comes up with new money, there will be a shift away from housing construction to lead paint abatement.

DAVIS: Scott says she hopes Congress will pass additional legislation that would fund the management or removal of lead paint. A bill that would have done this through a tax on the lead industry failed this last session. Outgoing California Senator Alan Cranston, who sponsored the Title X legislation, also supports additional funding for lead paint abatement.

CRANSTON: In the long run it's a saving. There've been lawsuits, for example, against the Federal Government where it didn't warn a family that the
cutive director of the Alliance to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.

RYAN: There is the recognition that over half the US housing stock has some lead paint. We can't throw up our hands and panic, or we would all be living in tents. We must take a common - sense approach to this problem, and I think that's what Title X lays out.

DAVIS: For privately-owned property, TITLE X essentially establishes a standard of informed consent. The Act holds the private sector responsible largely for disclosing and informing potential buyers and renters about the possible presence of lead-based paint on the property, and its potential hazards to the h

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.