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Cardin, Duckworth, Merkley, Booker, Van Hollen Introduce Resolution to Tackle Toxic Lead Exposure

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chair of Subcommittee on the Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy, along with Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced the introduction of a resolution calling on the United States to invest in ending toxic lead exposure.

According to UNICEF, lead is responsible for nearly 1.5 percent of annual global deaths. The resolution highlights the wide-range of detrimental effects toxic lead exposure has on human health, the environment, and economic development, drawing attention to the breadth of lead exposure globally and expressing concern for the dangerous levels of lead in the blood of a third of the world’s children. Most importantly, the resolution calls on the United States to invest in lead prevention in global health, education, and environmental programs abroad.

“There is no safe level of lead exposure, and we have a responsibility to protect our children and vulnerable populations who are disproportionately impacted by it,” said Chair Cardin. “Yet, despite proven, cost-effective prevention approaches, there is relatively little global assistance to help prevent lead exposure. More must be done to support the efforts of agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), who are working to address the disproportionate harm on low- and middle-income countries. I encourage other high-income nations to join this call to invest in opportunities to work with international organizations to assist in amplifying a global lead prevention effort.”

“The persistence of lead is a public health crisis that has plagued communities across our nation for far too long,” said Senator Duckworth. “There is no safe level of lead in our environment—and as we continue our ongoing work to remove lead service lines and reduce the risk of lead poisoning for our children, I’m proud to introduce this resolution alongside my colleagues to call on the United States to invest in lead prevention here at home and abroad.”

“No matter where a child is in the world, they deserve to be in a lead-free environment. In the United States, we’re taking action to replace every lead pipe in households across America, and last Congress we passed major legislation to do just that. However, there is still more work to be done to tackle lead exposure in the U.S. and around the world. This resolution highlights the scope of this global public health threat, and together, we can push for further action,” said Senator Merkley.

“One-third of the world’s children have dangerous levels of lead in their blood, which we know is linked to harmful effects on brain and nervous system development,” said Senator Booker. “I’m proud to cosponsor this resolution that will help increase awareness about the impacts of lead poisoning on children and implement strategies for prevention both at home and abroad.”

“Lead exposure poses a grave risk to children – whose health and development can be irreversibly compromised by its effects – and to broader communities and economies across the globe. Recognizing the dire consequences of this toxin, our international development programs must prioritize lead exposure prevention – so we can ensure a safer and healthier future for children around the world,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Full text of the resolution is available here.