A Happy Dance for Big Wins on Childhood Lead Poisoning Reduction in 2021

We are taking a moment to celebrate the progress North Carolina has made this year.

By: Vikki Crouse | October 2021

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This week is National Children’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. At NC Child, we are taking a moment to celebrate some of the exciting progress that state officials, local providers, and advocates have made this year to reduce lead exposures for young children across the state.

Ending childhood lead exposure is a proven strategy to protect young children’s long-term health and development. Even low-level exposure to lead can reduce IQ, harming children’s long-term health, success in school, and future employment and earning potential over their lifetimes. Each year, hundreds of young children are identified with elevated blood lead levels in North Carolina. That’s why NC Child collaborates with partners on policies aimed at ending childhood lead poisoning in North Carolina.

RELATED: Learn how you can reduce potential lead sources in your home

The good news is that with the help of recent policy changes, public-private partnerships, and unprecedented public investments, we expect to see a significant reduction in the number of children exposed to lead in our state soon. Here’s how:

  • Implementing a lower threshold for action when lead is found in young children’s drinking water. This summer, Governor Cooper signed HB 272 “Revise Health Standard for Lead,” into law after it received unanimous support in the NC General Assembly. This new law updates the definition of a child’s drinking water lead hazard, and ensures that an additional 30,000 young children will be protected from lead in water in child care centers alone.
  • Getting lead out of drinking water at NC child care centers. More than 90% of licensed child care centers in the state have now tested their drinking water for lead. Thanks to a 2019 public health rule amendment, all licensed child care centers are required to test their drinking and food prep water for lead and take action when high lead levels are found. Early results showed that approximately 1 in 10 child care centers found high levels of lead in at least one water tap.
  • Investing in lead-based paint removal and clean drinking water in the places where children learn. This year, our elected leaders took a big step in the right direction to address childhood lead exposure by proposing a $150 million investment of federal relief funds to test for and remove lead and asbestos in schools and child care centers across the state. If enacted, these preventive measures will go a long way in protecting millions of North Carolina children from exposure to dangerous toxics in the places where they learn.

Today, there’s lots to be grateful for as we continue the work to end childhood lead poisoning in North Carolina. The progress we’ve made as a state wouldn’t be possible without child advocates like you continually speaking up for kids. This National Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, we invite you to keep working together with us towards a lead-free North Carolina.

You can help! Make a donation to NC Child today to help us reach our goal of ending childhood lead poisoning in North Carolina. Your support will make a difference!