By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior
In its effort toward creating safer communities, the Biden-Harris Administration said it is actively addressing the pervasive issue of lead exposure, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiling a proposal to fortify the Lead and Copper Rule, identified as a crucial step in achieving the president’s vision of a lead-free future. The proposal mandates water systems to replace lead service lines within the next decade, aligning with the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a groundbreaking $50 billion investment in upgrading the nation’s water infrastructure. With over 9.2 million American households, particularly in low-income and minority communities, relying on lead pipes, this initiative is a pivotal move to ensure access to clean drinking water.
The White House said the EPA’s proposal goes beyond mere lead service line replacements, incorporating stringent measures such as enhanced tap water sampling requirements, comprehensive lead service line inventories, and streamlined actions to mitigate lead health risks. Already, the EPA has allocated over $3.5 billion for lead service line replacements, significantly impacting homes, schools, and buildings. Further bolstering those efforts, the American Rescue Plan’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, with an investment exceeding $20 billion, supports water infrastructure projects, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to clean water initiatives.
The newly launched Get the Lead Out (GLO) Initiative partners with 200 underserved communities, providing crucial technical assistance to access funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for lead service line removal. Key financial commitments include a $340 million investment in Philadelphia and a $336 million loan for Chicago, both directed toward lead pipe replacement. In addition to comprehensively addressing lead exposure, the administration said it’s tackling hazards in paint, dust, air, soil, food, and workplaces. Proposed EPA regulations aim to strengthen lead-based paint hazard removal standards, particularly crucial for protecting children and communities.
The administration’s commitment extends to international collaboration, with partnerships between the CDC and the EPA’s Office of International Affairs focusing on global initiatives such as the Global Child Thrive Act. The CDC’s Lead Detect Prize, a $1 million initiative to speed the development of sophisticated point-of-care blood lead tests, is one example of how the White House described innovations in blood lead testing as a priority. This initiative reflects the administration’s commitment to enhancing testing accuracy and lowering environmental contamination risks. “As the Biden-Harris Administration marks its first anniversary, these comprehensive efforts showcase an unwavering dedication to eradicating lead exposure and ensuring a healthier, safer future for all,” officials stated.