U.S. EPA Proposes Cutting Programs That Reduce Lead Exposure

Paint flakes off a residence in Emeryville, California.

Paint flakes off a residence in Emeryville, California. REUTERS/Noah Berger

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to cut $16.6 million and more than 70 employees from federal programs aimed at reducing lead risks, including eliminating two programs that focus on limiting children’s exposure to lead-based paint, The Washington Post reported.

The two programs slated to be cut help train workers in removing lead-based paint and fund public education about the risks of lead exposure. Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause cognitive impairment and attention disorders in children. It is a persistent problem in America’s aging housing stock. The EPA estimates that 38 million U.S. homes currently have lead-based paint. A recent Reuters investigation found that children in more than two-dozen California communities have lead levels in their blood as high or higher than those found in Flint, Michigan, where lead has tainted the water supply.

The budget cuts are part of the Trump administration’s push to shift responsibility for environmental and public health programs from federal agencies to state and local governments. However, according to the EPA’s website, only fourteen states have programs to train contractors in safely removing lead-based paint. The rest rely on federal agencies to provide the training, The Washington Post reported.