New Hampshire Moves to Prevention

7/17/2015

New Hampshire has just taken another step in protecting families against lead poisoning, particularly those who rent their homes. The new law passed this past week makes it illegal for landlords to evict families whose children have tested positive for any level of lead.  The law also lowered the minimum blood lead level a child needed to have before a landlord was notified. This allows action to be taken sooner so the property can be tested, and the issue can be dealt with as necessary.
 
The law includes some other requirements to help the state move towards a preventative stance rather than a reactive one on lead poisoning. “It’s really essential we do a better job screening kids to make sure that kids aren’t falling through the cracks,” said Tom Irwin, of the Conservation Law Foundation. “This issue has been moved to the back burner by many people who consider it to have been solved. The reality is this problem has not been solved.”

It has set up a commission on lead poisoning prevention and screening. Educational materials will also be sent to the parents of any child with blood lead levels at or above 5 μg/dL. The law asks for the Department of Health and Human Services to require health care providers to make sure that their at risk 1- and 2- year olds are getting tested. This particular request will go into effect if fewer than 85% of at risk 1- and 2- year olds are not being tested by 2016.
 
Lead exposure is on the decline in New Hampshire but the problem is still present. Lead exposure often occurs from lead based paint which was banned in 1978, but about half of the housing in New Hampshire was built before then and these homes may still pose a risk to children.  Lead can also be found in soil and toys. Children are more susceptible to lead poisoning due their common hand-to-mouth behaviors. Lead poisoning can cause a decreased IQ, shorter attention span and behavioral issues. However lead poisoning is 100% preventable. It is wonderful to see New Hampshire focusing on prevention rather than reacting. “The whole approach to dealing with the problem is the canary in the coal mine, only the child is the canary,” Elliot Berry, an attorney with New Hampshire Legal Assistance said. “Ideally you would have an approach where you identify a lead hazard, and then that leads to remediation.” Bookmark and Share

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