Urges Governor to Sign it Into Law to Help Address New York’s Lead Crisis
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2023
Contact: Chris Dobens, 718-679-8542, firstname.lastname@example.org
ALBANY, NY — Lead Free Kids New York (LFKNY), a statewide coalition of individuals, groups and organizations working together to end New York’s childhood lead exposure and poisoning crises, applauds the New York State Legislature for passing the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act (A.6115/S.5512). This bill requires each water utility to determine which lead service lines (LSL) in its system are made of lead. And it also requires the New York State Department of Health to make an inventory of these LSL publicly available, including interactive maps, to aid with replacement efforts.
New York State leads the nation in cases of children with elevated blood levels. Twelve percent of the children born in the state in 2019 – 28,820 children – have been diagnosed with blood lead levels greater than 2 micrograms per deciliter (μg/dL). Childhood lead poisoning rates for communities across the New York State are five to six times higher than those in Flint, MI at the peak of its water crisis.
And pervasive racial and socioeconomic inequities exist in New York’s burden of childhood lead poisoning, with children of color and low-income children disparately impacted by childhood lead exposure. In Buffalo, for example, children from neighborhoods of color are 12 times as likely as children from predominantly white neighborhoods to have elevated blood lead levels. New York’s clear distribution of childhood lead poisoning along racial and socioeconomic lines affirms that lead poisoning is a grave racial and environmental injustice – and makes the need to act swiftly to prevent it even more of a moral imperative.
The impacts of childhood lead exposure are lifelong and irreversible. They can include serious neurological and physical damage that results in permanent learning difficulties, hearing loss, behavioral issues, lowered ability to concentrate, and impaired academic performance. Other impacts include health issues such as anemia, hypertension, immunotoxicity, renal impairment, and toxicity to reproductive organs.
In addition to the horrific human toll on children and their families, childhood lead poisoning produces a tremendous economic burden. Lead exposure among New York children born in 2019 is projected to carry an estimated $6.4 billion lifetime economic burden due to reduced lifetime productivity, premature mortality, and increased spending on health care utilization, education, and social assistance.
We thank the sponsors of this bill, New York State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, for their leadership. And we urge New York State Governor Kathy Hochul to sign the Lead Pipe Right to Know Act so we can begin the long-overdue process of remediating this threat throughout the state.
“Lead poisoning is an urgent public health issue facing New York’s children – and it disproportionately affects children in low-income and marginalized families. There is no safe level of lead for our young, and lead exposure can have serious lifelong negative health impacts. The good news is that it’s entirely preventable. I’m so pleased that the Assembly and Senate have passed the Lead Pipes Right to Know Act which would require the New York State Department of Health to make a drinking water service line inventory and map publicly available and aid effective targeting of state and federal funding for lead service line replacements. Let’s make childhood lead exposure and lead poisoning a thing of the past in New York State.” — NYS Assembly Health Committee Chair Amy Paulin
“New York is leading the country in progressive climate change legislation that keeps our communities healthy and safe. The Lead Pipe Right to Know Act will make information about the number and location of lead pipelines easily accessible to New Yorkers in an effort to get lead out of New York’s drinking water. I am proud that by passing this bill we are combating environmental injustice by taking stock of our state’s infrastructure and ensuring access to clean water across the State,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee.
“Lead Service Lines are located primarily in low-income communities and communities of color, which also happen to be the same communities where the majority of the homes with lead paint are located,” said Briana Carbajal, WE ACT for Environmental Justice’s State Legislative Manager. “We need Governor Hochul to sign this legislation to help us identify the location of these hazards so we can begin the process of remediating this source of lead poisoning from our communities.”
“New York State has been dealing with the issue of lead poisoning for far too long. We need to have a complete and public map of lead service lines to homes to ensure that they are replaced with nontoxic materials for our community members.” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean+Healthy and co-lead of Lead Free Kids NY, “This legislation would be a step towards increasing transparency about the issue of lead in our water and enabling accurate and public data on where lead service lines are.”
“For far too long, lead pipes delivering drinking water to our homes have been a clear and present danger. The Lead Pipe Right to Know Bill is an important step to solving this problem because knowing how many lead pipes are out there and where they are will allow us to have an informed conversation about the cost and financing options to remove them once and for all. We salute Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Paulin for shining a light on this critical issue and hope that Governor Hochul signs it quickly,” said Julie Tighe of New York League of Conservation Voters.
“We would like to thank Senator Rivera and Assemblymember Paulin for championing this important clean water bill in the Legislature. This legislation will trigger the first steps towards a transparent, lead-free future for our state. Now we urge Governor Hochul to swiftly sign this bill into law, ensuring that New Yorkers no longer remain in the dark about the safety of their drinking water,” said Adriana Ortega, Clean Water Associate at Environmental Advocates NY.
# # #
Lead Free Kids New York (LFKNY) is a growing statewide coalition of individuals, groups and organizations working together to end New York’s childhood lead exposure and poisoning crises. Visit our website (LeadFreeKidsNY.org) and follow us on Facebook (@LeadFreeKidsNY) and Twitter (@LeadFreeKidsNY) to learn more about who we are, our policy priorities and how you can get involved in our movement to ensure all New York children are #LeadFreeKidsNY.