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October 13, 2015
This past June, the State of Maine Legislature passed LD1115 - An Act to Make the State's Standard for Lead Exposure in Children Consistent with the Federal Standard. This is groundbreaking legislation that firmly establishes the State of Maine as a national public health leader, by being the first state in the country to establish the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) blood lead reference level of 5 µg/dl for children as the State’s official action level for lead environmental investigation.
The Maine CDC responds to cases where children under age 6 are identified with lead poisoning by conducting an environmental investigation in the property of the lead poisoned child. By correlating Maine’s action level for environmental investigation with the CDC reference level, Maine CDC will now be conducting environmental investigation at 5 µg/dl. Previously, the intervention threshold for environmental investigation across the State of Maine was 15 µg/dl, with the exception of five lead target areas (designated as high-risk areas of childhood lead poisoning), where the threshold was 10 µg/dl. This drop in the intervention threshold is expected to increase the number of investigations across the State by ten-fold. A greater volume of investigations will help prevent children from being poisoned with higher blood lead levels, and is one important step toward protecting Maine’s children from lead hazards.
Along with the new intervention threshold, the Bill provides new enforcement authority that has the potential to deter building owners from avoiding abatement orders. Maine CDC will now have the ability to levy fines against any individual who is in violation of the Maine Lead Poisoning Control Act, and these fines may be up to $500 per violation, per day. If there are multiple violations existing within an individual dwelling unit, a daily fine will be issued for each separate violation. All the fines collected from these violations will be deposited into the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund to support continued lead efforts throughout the state.
In light of this major advancement, GHHI hosted a webinar to celebrate the passage of LD1115 and to discuss best practices in influencing healthy homes public policy. The webinar featured Greg Payne, Director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition and GHHI President and CEO, Ruth Ann Norton. This was a lively discussion that reflected on the strategies that worked in Maine, and the challenges that remain for implementation of the new law.
During the discussion, Payne explained that the successful passage of the law was largely a function of bipartisan political leadership, and the use of strategic legislative sponsors. The Bill was co-sponsored by Republican Senator Amy Volk of Scarborough, and Democratic Representative Peggy Rotundo of Lewiston. Supporting these sponsors was a network of committed advocates who testified on behalf of the bill, with no other groups offering dissenting voices. Additionally, local partners and supporters of the Bill worked diligently to educate the Legislature and the general public about childhood lead poisoning and the impact and importance of passing LD1115 for the State.
Payne went on to say that there is still more work to be done in Maine. The future success of the law will depend on diligent monitoring of its roll-out and implementation. For the law to go into effect, the first step is rule-making, to create administrative protocols for these significant changes in Maine CDC’s operations. This will be followed by the hiring of eight new lead investigators. The hiring of these positions could be held up through a number of intentional or unintentional mechanisms, making the implementation of the law difficult. Other suggestions that Payne offered were that there will need to be continued bipartisanship in the Legislature, and that the story of this new law accomplishes over time will need to be told.
Ruth Ann Norton spoke more generally about where public policy fits into a larger, comprehensive strategy for change. Policy change is essential in addressing childhood lead poisoning but it cannot stand alone. Other mechanisms for change include increased capacity for primary intervention, increased enforcement of lead safe laws, increased public education and awareness, establishing an effective relocation program, creating functional sustainable partnerships and leveraging private resources (Windows of Opportunity Comprehensive Action Plan, 2000). Norton also explained the need to bring together a network of local, state and federal partners to push change forward. Collaboration between partners is a central tenet of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative’s model, and has been at the root of legislative progress across GHHI’s sites nationally.
For full information on LD1115, visit the Maine Legislature website.
June 26, 2015
At the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, Mayors adopted resolutions supporting three issues critical to advancing healthy homes for all. The resolutions support:
The Green and Healthy Homes Initiative and Efforts to Produce Sustainable Green, Healthy and Safe Homes
Federal Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs
Social Impact Financing and Pay for Success Models
After adoption, the resolutions become the official policy of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
On behalf of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, I would like to express sincere appreciation to the Mayors for shining light on these important issues that affect millions of families’ health and ability to thrive. Additional healthy homes and lead poisoning prevention funding is needed at the federal level, and systems reforms are required at federal, state and local levels across the nation to advance the creation of healthy homes — which in turn produce health, economic and social outcomes for families. And we must not stop there; we must continue to find creative pathways to sustaining this work, through social impact financing and pay for success.
Special thanks to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter for submitting these important resolutions to the 2015 Conference.
November 4, 2014
The Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation (CHAP) has revised its Preservation Guidelines to allow for more effective treatment options for owners in remediating lead-based paint hazards and to improve lead safe work practices in historic properties during renovations or lead remediation.
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative has advocated for several years for CHAP to revise its Historic Preservation Guidelines to permit greater flexibility in the replacement of historic components that contain lead-based paint. These components include leaded windows, doors and trim, which can pose a hazard to children and other occupants who reside in historic properties. Unsafe work practices that disturb painted surfaces may also generate lead debris and lead dust that can cause lead poisoning through their inhalation or ingestion.
GHHI applauds CHAP and its staff, Commissioners and Committees for holding public hearings and for reviewing written recommendations from GHHI and others on how to modernize the CHAP Guidelines to permit owners to more permanently remediate lead hazards while maintaining the historic integrity of their properties. With these revisions, CHAP becomes a national leader in the reform movement and will be looked upon by other jurisdictions as they revise their policies and procedures to better address lead-based paint hazards in historic properties.
View the new CHAP Guidelines.
If you are interested in strategies on how you can reform historic preservation policies related to lead-based paint hazards or how to approach the local historic preservation office or State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in your area, contact GHHI and read GHHI’s written public comments to CHAP.
October 16, 2014
As part of National Lead Poisoning Awareness Week, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) will host a Twitter Town Hall on Oct. 23 from 12pm-1pm EST on what YOU can do to prevent lead poisoning. Join us by logging onto to Twitter and using #NoSafeLevel in your tweet.
This discussion will be moderated by @HealthyHousing and feature a panel GHHI’s expert staff, including:
Ruth Ann Norton @RuthAnnNorton: President & CEO
Leslie Anderson @leslieza: Vice President of Marketing & Communications
Shaketta Denson @sfierce418: Family Advocacy Attorney
Mark Kravatz @Kravatz: GHHI Rhode Island Outcome Broker
Michael McKnight @McKnight_GHHI: Senior Program Officer
Alex Sawyer @delawhereian: Housing Intervention Director
David Skinner @DaveShopD2z: Community Outreach Associate
Click here for staff bios.
We hope you can join us for this very important discussion. Catch up on our previous Twitter Town Halls.
If you have questions for our panel, please submit them on Twitter using the hashtag #NoSafeLevel. To participate during the Town Hall, login to your Twitter account and enter #NoSafeLevel into your search bar. When you ask or respond to a question, be sure to include #NoSafeLevel in your tweet.
September 30, 2014
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded more than $112 million in grants to 39 local and state government agencies and research institutions to protect children and families from the hazards of lead-based paint and from other home health and safety hazards.
Congratulations to both our GHHI and Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning partners who received awards: City of Atlanta, City of Chicago Department of Public Health, City of Detroit, City of Lewiston, City of Providence, City of St. Louis, District of Columbia, Erie County, Kenosha County Division of Health, Monroe County Department of Public Health, Onondaga County Community Development Division, State of Delaware Health and Social Services and The Providence Plan, totaling more than $39.4 million in funds to eliminate lead paint and other health hazards in homes across the country.
This funding is crucial in our effort to create better health, economic and social outcomes for children nationwide. We look forward to working with our dedicated partners in the healthy homes movement.
Read the full funding report here.