Home Featured Health Senator Menendez Introduces Legislation To Protect Children From Lead Exposure at Home

Senator Menendez Introduces Legislation To Protect Children From Lead Exposure at Home


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, has introduced bipartisan legislation to help ensure kids are safe at home by reducing the threat of lead exposure and lead poisoning of children in federally-assisted housing. More than 3,000 children each year in the Garden State are diagnosed with lead poisoning from exposure to lead paint and other sources in the home, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH).

“Every child should be able to grow up in a safe and healthy environment,” said Sen. Menendez. “There is no safe lead level for children, which is why we must do more to strengthen inspection standards and prevent children’s exposure to lead hazards in federally-assisted housing. The cost of inaction is far too great for our kids and our communities.”

The Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2021, which the senator also co-led with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) in 2016 and 2019, would require the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to update its lead poisoning prevention measures to reflect modern science and ensure that families and children living in federally-assisted housing are protected from the devastating consequences of lead poisoning.

Lead hazards in a home pose serious health and safety threats to children. Lead poisoning causes significant health, neurological, behavioral, intellectual, and academic impairments. When absorbed into the body, especially in young children, lead can damage the brain and nervous system, slow development and growth, and cause learning or behavioral problems. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead-based paint hazards, such as dust containing lead and chips from deteriorated lead-based paint, are the most common source of lead exposure for U.S. children.

Specifically, the Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2021 would ensure that families and children living in federally assisted housing are protected from the devastating consequences of lead poisoning by adopting primary prevention measures to protect children in low-income housing, including:

  • Prohibiting the use of visual assessments for low-income housing constructed prior to 1978 and requiring the use of more stringent risk assessments or more accurate evaluation tools that align with prevailing science to identify lead hazards before a family moves into the home;
  • Providing a process for families to relocate on an emergency basis, without penalty or the loss of assistance, if a lead hazard is identified in a home and the landlord fails to control the hazard within 30 days of being notified of the presence of lead; and
  • Requiring landlords to disclose the presence of lead if lead hazards are found in the home.

The Lead-Safe Housing for Kids Act of 2021 is also cosponsored by Sens. Durbin, Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Todd Young (R-Tenn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Sen. Menendez has long fought for federal resources to remove lead from homes and ensure children are protected from the dangerous long-term health effects caused by lead poisoning.

Just yesterday, Sen. Menendez introduced the Preventing Lead Poisoning Act of 2021 that would require all children enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to receive a lead screening test.

Earlier this year, Sen. Menendez and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (N.J.-11) highlighted the federal funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) that Bloomfield, N.J. is using to replace lead water pipes throughout the township. The Senator and Congresswoman were the chief sponsors of the SMART Act, which was the model for the state and local flexible funding that was allocated in the ARP.

Last year, Sens. Menendez and Cory Booker, along with Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (N.J.-09) announced a $3.4 million Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction grant for the City of Paterson to remove lead paint in 65 low-income housing units with children.

Also in 2019, Sens. Menendez and Booker passed legislation to provide states with greater financial flexibility to upgrade their water infrastructure. Each year, Sen. Menendez fights for robust funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which provides low-cost financing for a wide range of water infrastructure development projects in New Jersey and across the country. The SRFs have been a focal point in efforts to address the lead crisis in drinking water across the country.