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ALLIANCE CALLS TO ELIMINATE LEAD POISONING IN AMERICAN CHILDREN BY 2021

May 15, 2017—An alliance of leading scientists, health professionals and children’s health advocates, known as Project TENDR, today issued a call for national goals necessary to eliminate lead poisoning in American children by 2021. In a viewpoint published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics, Dr. David Bellinger, Dr. Bruce Lanphear and Dr. Aimin Chen assert that fully protecting children from lead now and in future generations is eminently doable.


Recent research shows that even low levels of lead in a child’s blood can harm brain development, leading to learning disabilities, lowered IQ and attention disorders. As confirmed by the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, one in six children in the U.S. has a learning or developmental disability. On average, it costs twice as much to educate a child with a learning or developmental disability as it does to educate a child without one according to the National Education Association and the American Institutes for Research.


The TENDR experts have charted a course for safeguarding children from lead poisoning within five years and eliminating exposures to lead by 2030. “The time has come to consign childhood lead poisoning to the medical history books,” said David Bellinger, lead study author and Professor of Neurology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. “We know where the lead is, we know how it gets into children’s bodies, we know what it does to harm health. What we need is the political will to get the job done.” The alliance recommends and says that, if fully adopted, these new national goals are achievable within five years:

  • Federal agencies adopt health-based standards and action levels that rely on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge.

  • Federal, state and local governments protect pregnant women and children by identifying and remediating sources of lead exposure prior to exposure.

  • Congress creates an independent expert advisory committee to develop and fund a long-term national strategy to eliminate lead toxicity in pregnant women and children.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead. Federal standards on allowable levels of lead in paint, dust, air, water and soil are obsolete and have failed to protect children in cities nationwide. “Some may say that lead is already low, or, that we are pushing for too much. But, lead is entirely toxic, period. We want to reduce exposure so that by 2021 there is no child with blood lead levels above 5 microgram/deciliter which is the current reference limit set