In January 2018, the New Hampshire House will vote on SB 247, a bill that would create stricter rules regarding lead exposure. The bill concentrates on protecting children from this common neurotoxin.
Lead paint in New Hampshire
Exposure to even small particles of lead can be toxic for young children. Lead paint is the leading cause of elevated blood lead levels in New Hampshire. Sixty-two percent of all housing in the state was constructed before lead paint was outlawed in 1978. Contaminated drinking water can also expose people to lead.
What’s in the bill
SB 247 sets tougher regulatory standards for dealing with lead exposure. It does so in the following ways:
- it establishes universal blood testing for lead in children ages one and two (a parent or guardian may refuse the testing)
- it lowers the legal limit for blood lead levels in children that triggers state action
- it requires landlords to install/maintain faucet filtration systems if a child has a blood lead level over the legal limit
- it requires schools and licensed child care facilities that use wells to regularly test their water for lead, and implement a remediation plan if there are high levels of lead (Update as of 1/3/18: the House amended the bill to require schools with public water to also test for lead)
- it adds failure “to comply with applicable public health laws and regulations regarding lead” to the list of reasons a daycare can have its license suspended, revoked, or denied
- it requires insurers in the state to cover blood lead testing
The House Finance Committee is recommending an amendment to the bill that would make some important changes. As currently written, the bill sets aside $6 million to help landlords pay for 75-100% of the costs of lead remediation. The Finance Committee amendment turns those grants into a loan program.
The Finance Committee amendment also requires that pre-1978 buildings previously used for non-residential purposes be certified “lead safe” before being used as residential rental units or as daycare facilities.
(Update as of 1/3/18: the House adopted the House Finance Committee amendment and passed SB 247.)
Arguments for and against SB 247
Proponents of SB 247 argue that lead poisoning is a major public health crisis in New Hampshire—even if it doesn’t always get the most media attention. Childhood lead exposure can lead to developmental and behavioral problems. Since most of the housing stock in the Granite State was built before lead paint was outlawed, New Hampshirites should be particularly concerned with protecting children from lead poisoning.
Opponents feel that New Hampshire’s lead exposure regulations are already strict enough. They believe SB 247 imposes too great a regulatory burden on landlords, daycares and private schools. Some also feel it is not the role of government to impose universal screenings for lead. Instead, they feel it is a medical decision that should be left solely up to the discretion of parents and guardians.
Do you support SB 247? Share your opinion in the comments below.