Bi-partisan bill for prevention of lead paint poisoning passes House

3 Manchester reps vote against the bill, described by Gov. Sununu as a 'common sense' measure.

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Lead paint can be detected using products that turn red on contact.

MANCHESTER, NHSenate Bill 247,  a bi-partisan bill for preventing childhood lead poisoning from paint and water, passed the House on a roll call vote of 266-87 on January 3. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Donna Soucy (D). Three other Manchester representatives also voted against the bill: Lisa Freeman (R), Kathleen Souza (R), and Victoria Sullivan (R).

Souza explained her vote: “Testing for one and two-year-olds seems like too much of a government intrusion to me. They’ll be tested in preschool or kindergarten. And in houses built after lead paint was used, there’s no potential.”

Lead paint was banned for use in housing in 1978. Its dangers are well-documented. The EPA itself has called lead poisoning “the number one environmental health threat in the U.S. for children ages 6 and younger.” Children can be exposed home, at day care, or at houses they often visit.

A Centers for Disease Control publication says, “In general, screening and assessment for lead poisoning should focus on children younger than 72-months of age, particularly on children younger than 36-months of age. “

“New Hampshire has one of the oldest housing stocks in the nation, which puts us all at a heightened risk of lead poisoning,” said Governor Chris Sununu on January 3. “SB 247 will allow every child in New Hampshire proper and prompt access to lead testing. Every family, regardless of their means, should have the opportunity to make sure their children are as healthy as possible. I applaud the House for passing this bipartisan, commonsense legislation today, and it is my hope that the Senate will work with the House to get this measure on my desk.”

“Childhood lead poisoning is a problem of statewide concern, affecting New Hampshire kids in rural and urban communities alike, and across all demographics, said Tom Irwin, director of the New Hampshire office of the Conservation Law Foundation.

“But it’s a problem that disproportionately affects low-income families and some of our most vulnerable populations, and by impeding the ability of children to learn, it’s creating yet another barrier for families trying to break the cycle of poverty. Today, the House took an important step towards better protecting New Hampshire’s children and families, said Irwin.

In 2015, 660 New Hampshire children were identified with lead poisoning. Manchester was ranked among the state’s 21 highest-risk communities for lead poisoning.

A federal appeals court ruled in December that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must update its rule on lead poisoning within 60 days and implement a final regulation one year after that. The EPA last reviewed its rule 17 years ago.

Attempts to seek comment from Sullivan and Freeman for this report were unsuccessful. Freeman also serves as a member of the Manchester school board.

SB 247 was amended, so it now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.

Click here to review the Jan. 3 roll call vote.

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