On May 7, President Obama released the administration’s
proposed FY10 budget (for the year starting October 1, 2009). The President’s
budget requests $140 million for HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead
Hazard Control (OHHLHC), the same amount appropriated in FY09 (without counting
the additional $100 million in stimulus money appropriated in February 2009).
The administration, however, did increase its funding request for the Healthy
Homes Initiative by $5.6 million, to a total of $20 million, essentially moving
this amount from Lead Hazard Control grants into Healthy Homes.
The administration requested small increases to EPA’s
lead budget, boosting state grants by one million dollars for a total of $14.6
million. The extra money is justified as being needed to certify additional
lead professionals to meet the increased demand resulting from HUD’s additional
stimulus grants. The budget also proposes a small half-million dollar increase
for the EPA’s lead risk reduction program, bringing the total to $14.4
million. The increase is essentially just to provide cost of living increases
for staff. Additionally, the proposal allocates a paltry $29,000 to fund public
awareness about the new RRP Rule, which advocates know will require tens of
millions to successfully build capacity and support state implementation and
The budget request also includes $34.8 million for CDC’s
Healthy Housing/Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. This is a half million-dollar
decrease over FY09 appropriations.
Congress is currently considering changes to the administration’s
proposal. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) circulated a bipartisan
“Dear Colleague” letter that was signed by ten other Senators, seeking
to increase the OHHLHC appropriations to $225 million, an $85 million increase
over the administration’s proposal. If accepted by the appropriations
committees, the increase would more than triple the funds distributed to the
healthy homes grant program, likely allotting $70 million to the Healthy Homes
Healthy housing advocates are also seeking substantial
increases in EPA’s budget — particularly for the implementation
of the RRP Rule — as well as in the budgets of CDC’s and other agencies
that play significant roles in creating and promoting healthy housing.
On May 19, HUD released the first notices of funding availability
(NOFAs) for FY09, announcing the availability of $69 million for Lead Hazard
Control (LHC) grants and $48 million for Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration
grants. New to the LHC NOFA this year, applicants can request up to $70,000
in supplemental funding to promote healthy housing. The additional money is
intended to assist grantees develop mechanisms to address other health hazards
while conducting lead hazard control work. The Alliance is optimistic that this
is an early preview of a larger effort to better integrate lead hazard control
and healthy homes activities in future years.
EPA also issued in May a request for proposals for its
FY 2009 Targeted Grants to Reduce Childhood Lead Poisoning. EPA will award a
total of $1 million to 10 - 20 projects designed to: (1) reduce lead poisoning
in areas with high incidences of elevated blood-lead levels through outreach
and education; (2) identify and reduce lead poisoning in under-studied areas
with high potential for undocumented elevated blood-lead levels through data
gathering and monitoring; and (3) develop tools to address unique and challenging
issues in lead poisoning prevention, especially tools that are replicable and
scalable for other areas.
HUD will release other NOFAs, including the Healthy Homes
Demonstration and Technical Studies programs, in the coming weeks.
and NCHH Continue Campaign to Improve Model Housing Codes
The Alliance and National Center for Healthy Housing are
again submitting proposals to the International Code Council to help make model
codes more health-protective. These model codes are adopted and enforced by
state and local governments around the country, and therefore including better
health protections in them is essential for ensuring the health and safety of
millions of families. The codes of interest are the International Property Maintenance
Code (IPMC), the International Residential Code (IRC), and the International
Existing Building Code (IEBC). The proposals address:
Health and Safety Chapter: Prevent and eliminate health
hazards by requiring compliance with health standards in IPMC, especially
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Alarms: Require alarms in IEBC
and IPMC consistent with IRC language adopted last cycle.
Space Heaters: Prohibit in IPMC use of unvented, portable
fuel-burning space heaters as a primary source of heat, and if used, require
a CO alarm.
Lead-based Paint and Renovations: Modify IEBC to require
compliance with EPA’s RRP Rule.
Deteriorated Paint in pre-1978 structures: Modify IPMC
to explicitly prohibit deteriorated paint because it is a presumed hazard
in pre-1978 buildings, and require lead-safe repair unless approved test proves
paint is not lead-based paint.
Pest Control: Modify IPMC to require certified professional
to eliminate pests in response to a pest control order.
Infestation: Expand IPMC definition to expressly include
bedbugs, cockroaches, and pest rodents, as well as visible pest residues or
debris unless there is clear evidence that the pest has been eliminated.
Sanitary: Add definition to IPMC to specify that this
is a condition that is clean and free of pest infestations and residues; human
and animal waste; mold; wastewater; sewage; rotting material; and uncontained
rubbish or garbage.
Formaldehyde and Wood Products: Update IBC, IRC and
IEBC to incorporate latest versions of the relevant ANSI standards. These
ANSI standards incorporate the stringent California standards for formaldehyde
emissions from wood products.
Radon: Modify the IRC to require Radon Resistant New
Moldy Building Materials: Modify IEBC and IPMC to require
repair/removal/ remediation of moldy permeable materials made of or containing
organic materials, such as but not limited to wood, textiles, paint, cellulose
insulation, and paper, including paper-faced gypsum board.
Swimming Pool Fencing: Modify the IRC to require four
sides of fencing around pools.
Water Temperature Limits: Modify IEBC to reflect IRC
The organizations are also supporting proposals from the
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers to
require compliance with ASHRAE’s 62.2 standard for ventilation of low-rise
residential buildings: whole-house mechanical ventilation; local ventilation
from kitchens and bathrooms; preventing migration of contaminants from an attached
garage; and exhaust of range hoods to the outside.
The proposals are due on Monday, June 1. The ICC committees
will consider the proposals as part of their deliberations in Baltimore from
Oct. 24 to Nov. 11, 2009. The proposals will receive a final vote (by government
agency ICC members only) at a hearing in Charlotte in the fall of 2010. Both
meetings are open to the public.
on EPA's Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule
EPA released more tools this month to further aid compliance
with the new Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule, which goes into full
effect next April. Most notably, EPA released the model curriculum for the Dust
Sampling Technician 8-hour initial class. This class will accredit individuals
who wish to take quantitative dust samples after a renovation job (as an alternative
to the cleaning verification procedure when required by local law, the contract,
or HUD). The RRP rule allows the same individual who performed the renovation
work to also perform dust sampling, if they so choose, as long as they have
the certification. The new Dust Sampling Technician model curriculum is available
The curriculum has six modules and includes two hour-long hands-on activities.
EPA began accepting applications from potential RRP trainers
on April 22, 2009, and is now reviewing applications. It is our understanding
that EPA will first accredit existing accredited lead training providers who
are adding renovator classes to their repertoire, initially hoping to complete
those reviews within a month (although no accreditations have been issued to
our knowledge as of May 28). Applications from entities not currently providing
abatement training will be reviewed next. EPA has six months by its own regulation
to review applications, although the agency has verbally committed to the Alliance
a desire to expedite the process. EPA’s regional offices are processing
the applications, and it is our understanding that regional staff may pay a
visit to trainers’ offices or facilities prior to approving accreditation.
The Alliance, along with other advocates and industry representatives, has been
meeting with EPA to discuss ways to secure adequate training capacity, including
ensuring that applications are processed in a timely fashion so that training
can begin as soon as possible.
EPA has also provided a list of 13 existing lead-safe work
practices courses for which successful prior completion will entitle one to
become an RRP-Certified Renovator by simply completing a 4-hour refresher course
approved by EPA (or by a state authorized by EPA to approve RRP training courses
and trainers) in lieu of completing an 8-hour initial renovator training course.
This list of “grandfathered courses” is available at http://afhh.org/res/res_rrp_grandfathered_courses.htm.
The Alliance continues to hold “Train the Trainer”
courses throughout the country in order to help prepare organizations to become
accredited trainers under EPA’s rule. Upcoming trainings will be held
in Worcester and Canton, Massachusetts, in June, as well as Chicago on August
17-18 in partnership with the NeighborWorks Training Institute. To register
for the Chicago NTI training, please visit this
page on the Neighborworks website.
web page contains application instructions and information that
contractors and training providers need to become approved by EPA.
The Alliance and the National Center for Healthy Housing
convened a national summit of housing and health leaders on May 7 to help develop
the action steps necessary to address health hazards in the country’s
housing stock. Forty representatives of national housing, health, and environmental
organizations, as well as topic area experts, served as panelists and provided
suggestions for how to increase the supply of healthy, affordable housing. After
a welcoming greeting from Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), panelists received an overview
of the science demonstrating the impact of simple healthy homes treatments and
the impact of community and housing conditions on health.
Case studies of unique models to address housing related
asthma triggers, as well as policy tools such as code enforcement and health
impact analysis, were presented by experts in these fields. In discussions moderated
by Alliance Board Member Stephanie Pollack, the panelists highlighted areas
for joint cooperation and discussed mechanisms for moving forward. Former U.S.
Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders also delivered comments on the importance
of healthy housing during a luncheon speech.
Participating organizations were invited in advance of
the summit to commit to elements of a National Healthy Housing Action Plan.
Twelve national organizations agreed to endorse and support Senator Reed’s
Healthy Housing Vision bill when it is introduced this summer. (The bill will
be similar to the bill introduced last fall – see the October
2008 Alliance Alert). Others agreed to add healthy homes to their
strategic plans, help educate their membership or clients about healthy housing,
and support local efforts to implement healthy housing policies, among other
While the official summary of the meeting is still being
prepared, the four background papers developed for the meeting, along with copies
of the presentations made at the meeting, are available at http://www.nchh.org/Policy/Policy-Summit.aspx.
General Will Deliver Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes
On June 9 in Washington DC, at 10:00am Eastern time, the
Acting U.S. Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., will hold an event
to release his “Call to Action to Promote Healthy Homes.” Although
the event can no longer accommodate additional in-person attendees, it will
be Webcast live on the Surgeon General’s website, www.surgeongeneral.gov.
The Call to Action is part of the national Healthy Homes
Initiative led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development (HUD). HUD, CDC and other partners will join the Acting
Surgeon General to highlight the public health importance of promoting healthy
homes. In addition, HUD’s Deputy Secretary Ron Sims will announce HUD’s
Healthy Homes Strategic Plan, which supports the recommendations outlined in
the Call to Action.
According to the Acting Surgeon General, “the Call
to Action looks at the ways housing can affect health, and its release will
initiate a national dialogue about the importance of healthy homes.”
Petition EPA to Ban the Production and Use of Lead Wheel Weights
The Alliance joined several other environmental and health
advocates in signing on to a petition from the Sierra Club and the Ecology Center
urging EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to establish regulations prohibiting the
manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead wheel balancing
weights ("wheel weights"). The May 28th letter explained that "the time has
come for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to recognize that lead is
an element that does not go away. It simply accumulates in our environment,
year after year. EPA must use pollution prevention to regulate major sources
of lead releases into our environment, our communities, our neighborhoods, and
our homes." If EPA honors the petition, it could address the significant threat
that lead from wheel weights poses to human health.
Ecology Center had previously petitioned EPA on May 13,
2005 (OPPT-2005-0032; FRL-7720-5) on the same matter, but EPA denied that petition
on August 8 of the same year. To compensate for its failure to regulate lead
wheel weights, EPA launched a voluntary National Lead-Free Wheel Weight Initiative
(NLFWWI) on August 29, 2008. The Initiative had 40 charter members and four
subsequent members including every new car manufacturer, four domestic wheel
weight producers (3M, Hennessy, Perfect, and Plombco), two leading tire manufacturers
(Bridgestone Firestone and Goodyear) and major retailers (Bridgestone Firestone,
Goodyear, Costco, Wal-Mart, and Sam's Club).
While the voluntary initiative was a good first step, the
NLFWWI falls short of what is needed to protect children, the public, and the
environment. Some states have taken up the issue themselves, recognizing EPA's
lack of enforcement as a significant failure. The petition emphasizes that "while
state action is important, states have limited ability to regulate imports.
Congress gave EPA that authority in Section 13 of TSCA. Congress also gave EPA
the responsibility, under Section 6 of TSCA, to protect the public from unreasonable
risks, such as those currently posed by the installation of leaded wheel weights.
EPA acknowledges that 1.6 million pounds of lead is lost
when wheel weights are uncontrolled or unmanaged in the environment, and further
admits that there is no safe level of exposure. The petition asks EPA to ban
the manufacturing, distribution and sale of lead wheel weights by January 1,
exposure linked to common cancers
A research article published online on May 12, 2009, in the Journal of the
National Cancer Institute raises new concerns about the harmful effects
of formaldehyde, a common chemical found in pressed wood products such as particleboard
(sub-flooring, shelving, cabinetry, furniture), hardwood plywood paneling (decorative
wall covering, cabinets, furniture); and medium density fiberboard (drawer fronts,
cabinets, furniture tops), from which it off-gasses into indoor air. Formaldehyde
is also a component of cigarette smoke.
Formaldehyde has long been linked to rare tumors of the
nasopharynx, an area that includes the back of the throat, that affect about
2,000 Americans a year, according to the American Cancer Society. A new study
provides further evidence linking formaldehyde with cancers of the blood and
lymphatic system. These cancers are far more common — affecting nearly
140,000 Americans a year.
Children living in houses with gas stoves and other gas-fired
appliances were more likely to exhibit inattention behaviors and scored lower
at 4 years of age on tests that measure memory, verbal abilities and motor skills
than children living in houses with no gas appliances. Gas-fueled cooking and
heating appliances release nitrogen dioxide, a gas that has been found to damage
cells. Children living in houses with high air concentrations of nitrogen dioxide
had lower cognitive abilities and were more likely to have attention problems.
The authors conclude that the “current data provide
preliminary evidence that early-life exposure to indoor air pollution from gas
appliances may be related to impaired cognitive functioning among preschoolers
and may increase their risk of developing ADHD symptoms.”
effects associated with school-age lead exposure
An article published May 7, 2009, in Environmental Health Perspectives Online
concludes that while lead toxicity is usually assumed to be greatest during
early childhood, recent studies suggest that blood lead concentrations at 5
to 7 years of age are more strongly associated with IQ and behavior problems.
The researchers studied two sets of children from infancy
to 6 years of age in Rochester, NY, and Cincinnati. IQ decreased by seven points
for children whose 6-year blood lead level was 50% greater than their 2-year
level compared with those children whose 6-year blood lead level was 50% less
than their 2-year blood lead level. Also, criminal arrest rates were more than
three times higher for children whose 6-year blood lead level was 50% higher
than their 2-year blood lead level. The researchers concluded that 6-year blood
lead concentration is more strongly associated with cognitive and behavioral
development than blood lead concentration measured in early childhood.
The Alliance would
like to introduce our 2009 Summer Intern! Nina Dutton will be a junior at Emory
University in the fall, majoring in environmental studies and international
studies. She previously interned at the U.S. EPA, and volunteered for the Alliance
during January 2009, helping to produce materials for our Renovation, Repair,
and Painting Train the Trainer course. Nina will be working on several projects
at the Alliance, including updates to our website. We’re excited to have
her on our staff this summer!
The Alliance would also like to thank Steve Weil of Weil
Communications for presenting our organization with a Leadership Award at the
2009 National Lead Poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Conference held in
Orlando, Florida. The Alliance is deeply grateful for the recognition in advancing
our nation’s efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning and would like
to extend this acknowledgement to the numerous organizations around the country
with whom we work.
* * * * *
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Join premier experts and future leaders at the Communities
in Action for Asthma-Friendly Environments National Forum on June 4-5, 2009,
in Washington, DC. Don’t miss this chance to learn how to improve program
quality and impact, build a sustainable asthma care enterprise, and expand the
scope of your services to improve the health and quality of life of everyone
with asthma in your community. Register today at https://www.epaasthmaforum.com.
The National Environmental Health Association’s Annual
Educational Conference will be from June 21-24, 2009 in Atlanta, GA. For more
information or to register for the AEC, visit www.neha.org/AEC/2009/index.html.
The National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical
Exposures Kick-off Meeting will be held Friday, June 26, 2009 at the Ronald
Reagan Building and International Trade Center at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue,
NW, Washington, DC. This is a collaborative initiative to identify and prioritize
actions for strengthening the public health approach to chemical exposures.
CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health and the Agency for Toxic
Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR) are sponsoring this project. If
you would like to receive additional information on this project and meeting,
please send your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 7th Annual Conference on Children’s Health and
the Environment will be held Sept. 11, 2009 at the Johns Hopkins University
Mount Washington Conference Center in Baltimore, MD. Cosponsored by the Mid-Atlantic
Center for Children’s Health and the Environment (MACCHE), the conference
will explore how current children’s environmental health issues are directing
policy changes in the field. For details, visit the website here.
Save the date for the symposium entitled “Promoting
Environmental and Policy Change to Support Healthy Aging,” to be held
Sept. 15-16, 2009, in Chapel Hill, NC. This symposium is a third in a series
funded by CDC’s Healthy Aging Program. More information on this symposium
can be found at www.prc-han.org.
National Environmental Public Health Conference: Healthy People in a Healthy
Environment seeks to promote the nation’s environmental health
capacity by enhancing the expertise of environmental health professionals -
including public health and healthcare professionals, academic researchers,
representatives from communities and organizations, as well as advocacy and
business groups with a primary interest in environmental public health. The
conference will be held Oct. 25-28 in Atlanta, GA.
The American Public Health Association will be holding
its Annual Meeting, Nov. 7-11, 2009 in Philadelphia, PA. The theme this year
is “Water and Public Health: the 21st Century Challenge.” The conference
will explore the latest public health challenges and learn about what can be
done to protect our resources, our health and our world. Registration
opens June 1. For more information, visit http://www.apha.org/meetings.