E&C Dem Leaders Request Update From CDC on Lead Poisoning Prevention & Flint Water Crisis
Energy and Commerce Committee Democratic leaders today sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting additional information on the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, CDC’s role in the Flint water crisis response, and federal investment in lead poisoning prevention and surveillance. The letter, signed by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY), is a follow up to the letter sent by E&C leaders on February 17, 2016 and the subsequent response by CDC on March 14, 2016.
Although it has been three years since the crisis began, the city of Flint has estimated it would be another two years before residents there can drink its tap water without using filters. There have also been reports of thousands of U.S. locales with lead poisoning rates at least double those seen in Flint at the peak of its water crisis. CDC says that “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified,” thus the danger of blood lead levels in children is a nationwide concern.
As noted in the Committee’s previous letter, funding for the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program has fallen in recent years, from nearly $35 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 to $17 million in FY 2016.
“CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program provides funding to states to develop lead poisoning prevention programs, build surveillance capacity, and ensure that poisoned children receive appropriate health care services,” the four ranking members wrote to CDC. “While the program receives $17 million in annual appropriations from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, both the House and Senate versions of Trumpcare would have eliminated this fund.”
In FY 2017, the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention program received a one-time appropriation of $15 million as part of the response to the Flint water crisis, in addition to the $17 million it received through the annual appropriations process. President Trump’s budget proposal threatens to cut CDC’s budget by over $1.2 billion.
The Committee leaders requested updates and answers to questions on topics including: blood lead testing and reference levels, the impact of proposed budget cuts on CDC’s response to public health challenges, expanding the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to all 50 states, publicizing blood lead level surveillance data, and ensuring states share blood lead level testing results with CDC in an accurate, timely, and complete manner.
The Democrats’ letter to CDC is available here.