Bill To Improve Lead Testing in Children Passes First Policy Committee
SACRAMENTO – The Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, responsible for reviewing bills on topics including hazardous waste, lead contamination and water quality passed AB 1316 by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) on a 4 to 2 vote.
Lead has been listed under California's Proposition 65 since 1987 as a substance that can cause reproductive damage and birth defects, and has been listed as a chemical known to cause cancer since 1992. Under current law, only children on government assistance programs and children that spend a majority of their time in pre-1978 buildings have their blood tested for lead.
“Legacy lead in paint, plumbing, contaminated soil and water sources means that children are still exposed to this toxic metal. Given the ages of California's infrastructure, lead exposure risks are ubiquitous. This is disconcerting because we know that there is no safe exposure to lead,” Assemblymember Quirk stated in his statement to the committee. “AB 1316 will require all children to have their blood lead level screened. The current process for screening is ineffective because we have not identified all risk factors that expose children to lead. We need to do better and we can do better,” he concluded.
John J. Bauters, Vice-Mayor to the City of Emeryville and Chair of Alameda County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Joint Authority attended today’s hearing to testify in support of AB 1316. "Our future depends on children. They depend on us to provide them with healthy home environments that foster successful growth. AB 1316 is a common sense measure that puts the health and safety of children first,” he said.
“There are too many examples—in my district alone –of how the current system tracking lead exposure has failed generations,” said Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens) who is a joint author and whose district includes the Exide battery recycling facility that polluted the surrounding community for decades. “We know any amount of lead poisoning is detrimental to the health and development of our kids, sentencing them to a lifetime of bad health consequences. Comprehensive testing on children earlier would have alerted us to clusters of high lead levels and ensured Exide did not poison multiple generations and provided quicker treatment. A basic blood test is all that is needed to impact and protect the lives of thousands.”
AB 1316 will be considered by the Assembly Health Committee later this month