HUD Takes Action on Exposure to Lead Poisoning

HUD, EPA, and HHS collaborate to address hazards in the home

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have announced two agreements to further their “whole of government” approach to strengthen these agencies’ shared work in ensuring that children—especially those at high risk—are not exposed to human health risks from lead hazards.

These two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) support commitments made in the Lead and Paint Action Plan, EPA’s Strategic Plan, HUD’s Strategic Plan, and HHS’s Strategic Plan, which seek to reduce lead exposures locally with a focus on underserved communities and promote environmental justice through a whole of government approach.

One MOU expands, updates, and reaffirms a 1997 agreement between EPA and HUD to coordinate their enforcement efforts addressing lead-based paint hazards in housing.

“With this agreement, we will collaborate across the federal government to enforce the laws that aim to ensure the healthy housing future that American children deserve,” said Matthew Ammon, Director of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. “HUD is proud to join our federal partners at EPA to better align our enforcement efforts and ensure that we are protecting families–especially families with limited resources–from lead-based paint hazards in their home.”

David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, added, “EPA is committed to working with our federal partners to protect children from the harmful effects of lead poisoning, which remains far too prevalent in communities across America. Today’s agreement demonstrates that EPA and HUD will enforce the law fairly and aggressively to protect children, particularly those living in overburdened and underserved communities, from exposure to lead-based paint in their homes.”

The second MOU, signed by the EPA, HUD and CDC launches a pilot program in the agencies’ Region 3, which includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, to facilitate information sharing about communities with high blood lead levels or higher lead exposure risks, to help them focus their respective and collaborative efforts working in communities with the greatest risks. The agencies plan to use the knowledge gained from the pilot to expand the scope of this effort.

“HUD is pleased to collaborate with its EPA and CDC partners on this pilot that we hope will provide the basis for an enhanced national framework for sharing and using information on the sources of lead exposures at the community and even neighborhood levels,” said Ammon. “HUD has a particular interest in using the shared data to facilitate its engagement with state and local lead hazard control programs, healthy homes programs, and housing rehabilitation programs, for the purposes of improving its targeting of funding, conducting special projects, or other collaborations.”

EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz said, “Our three agencies will work together to identify, reach, and assist communities most at risk from exposure to lead. Through this pilot program, we will develop more effective processes for sharing actionable information on lead exposure, with the goal of alleviating the negative health impacts that still burden too many people across our region.”

Aaron Bernstein, Director of CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, added, “All children deserve to grow up without lead burdening their minds and bodies. We are committed to working together to leave no child behind and put an end to lead poisoning.”

More than one million children nationwide suffer from the irreversible impacts of lead poisoning, including reduced intelligence, behavioral and learning disabilities, and effects on many other body systems; new cases continue to be diagnosed every year. Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Adults with exposure to lead can develop symptoms such as high blood pressure, memory loss and reduced motor skills. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.

More than 34 million homes in the U.S. have lead paint somewhere in the building. Nearly 3.3 million homes nationwide have children less than six years of age facing one or more lead-based paint hazards, including more than two million low-income households.

HUD recently announced two historic Notices of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) that will make homes healthier and safer for low-income families. With this investment, since 1993, HUD has made more than $2.7 billion available to protect children, families, and individuals from exposure to lead and other hazards in their homes.

“Everyone in this country deserves to feel safe and healthy in their homes,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “We are proud to continue fulfilling commitments made under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, including the new funding opportunities we have announced today. These efforts will protect children, babies, and families from lead exposure, which can be detrimental at even low levels, and other home health hazards.”

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Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 25-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, most recently serving as Editor-in-Chief for National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He graduated from the New York Institute of Technology, where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books, and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.
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