As national attention focuses this week on lead poisoning and its various causes, NYLCV continues to prioritize this public health crisis through advocacy and education. National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week may last for only seven days, but the League’s work to eradicate this all-to-preventable condition never stops.
Lead Pipes Right to Know Act
Most urgently, we are calling on New Yorkers to reach out to Gov. Kathy Hochul to tell her that public health and transparency must prevail as we eagerly await her signature on the Lead Pipes Right to Know Act, which passed the state legislature in June.
This bill, which is a commonsense and pivotal step towards transparency and action, mandates that data regarding lead pipe locations be made accessible to the public online. This will empower New Yorkers with the knowledge of potential risks in their areas and the ability to protect themselves and their families.
It’s become all too clear that there is no safe level of lead exposure and so we hope the governor will protect New Yorkers by signing this NYLCV Scorecard bill into law.
No Excuses, NYC
In a report released in July, the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning estimated that 1 in 5 New Yorkers may be drinking from lead service lines (LSLs). The report, No Excuses, NYC: Replace Lead Drinking Water Pipes Now, co-authored by the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Fund, and Earthjustice, identified the problem of LSLs in the City and recommended urgent action towards their immediate removal.
“New York City’s drinking water supply is the envy of many other cities. Yet, for all of the money we have invested to protect our watershed, our return on investment is greatly diminished with each lead service line that remains in the ground,” said Joshua Klainberg, Senior Vice President for the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund.
New York State’s School Drinking Water
Lead is a heavy metal and a known neurotoxin, particularly harmful to the developing brain and nervous system of children. There is no safe level of lead exposure and even small amounts can harm a child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn.
In 2016, New York State became the first in the nation to enact a law requiring all public schools to test for, report to the school community about, and fix issues concerning lead in drinking water at all outlets used for consumption.
Last month, NYLCVEF provided an update on the program. Although the news was largely positive, it also showed incomplete data.
School drinking water in New York State may be getting cleaner thanks to regulations that NYLCV and its allies advocated for and which went into effect at the end of 2022. What is concerning, however, is a declining level of disclosure by public school districts to the Department of Health. Full and robust reporting by public schools is critical to the success of this program going forward.
Read our full update here on the state’s efforts to reduce lead in school drinking water.
A Leader in Lead Poisoning Prevention is Honored
NYLCV Senior Vice President Josh Klainberg was honored last week by WE ACT for Environmental Justice at their 35th anniversary gala. In his 28 years with the League, Klainberg has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to protecting the environment through politics and advancing public health with a focus on environmental justice. Over the past decade, his primary non-electoral focus has been on chemical policy reform in New York State and supporting efforts to eliminate toxic chemicals from children’s products. Most prominently, he has played a leading role in the successful campaign to reduce lead in public school drinking water and he is currently engaged in a campaign to remove lead service lines in New York City and in municipalities across the state. Watch his acceptance speech here.
The More You Know
Finally, as we look ahead we invite you to join us from 12:30 – 1:30 pm on October 31, when NYLCVEF and our partners at the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning will host an educational webinar on the dangers of lead poisoning and the work we are doing to prevent it. RSVP here.
Additional resources to help you protect you and your family from lead poisoning are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Environmental Protection Agency, the New York State Department of Health, and the New York City Department of Health.