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CU calls for improved lead screening for children

September 19, 2007

Consumers Union calls for improved lead screening for children

Washington, DC— Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, calls for more lead screening for children most at risk for exposure to hazardous lead. In letters to key Congressional committees, the organizations urged Congress to refocus on the problem of lead paint and other lead items in older homes occupied by millions of generally lower-income uninsured, Medicaid, and SCHIP eligible children. The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce is holding two days of hearings on lead tainted imports beginning today.
Lead screening and treatment is a benefit covered under Medicaid, yet according to a 1999 U.S. Government Accountability Office report only about 20 percent of the most at risk children are ever screened and treated. CU and Families USA call for revisiting this issue.
“As Congress acts to protect children against unsafe toys, we hope it can also rededicate attention and resources to the key underlying problem of excessive lead in at risk communities. We believe it would be very helpful if hearings could be held, not just on the newly reported problem of unsafe toys, but on the basic problem of ensuring lead screening and treatment for uninsured and Medicaid/SCHIP children,” reads the letter.
The children most at risk for daily, debilitating exposure to excessive lead levels are not the children who are most likely to be receiving new toys—and it is past time that the Nation also gave more attention to the daily poison that these children face,” according to the letter.
“We are very concerned about the importation of toys that have excess levels of lead paint or lead content. Congress should do all it can to minimize the introduction of lead into the environment of our nation’s children. At the same time, Congress should redouble its efforts to focus attention on kids at highest risk of exposure to excessive lead levels and see that that they are tested and treated if there are problems,” said Don Mays, Senior Director of Product Safety Planning and Technical Administration for Consumers Union.
Lead exposures can be associated with reduced mental functions and social developmental problems, as well as other health problems (including death) in children.
Contact: Jennifer Fuson 202-462-6262 for more information
To see a copy of the letter, click here.
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