Ben Carson calls for more resources to fight lead poisoning during hearing
Housing Secretary Nominee Ben Carson is calling for lead prevention and treatment to become a top priority across the country.
Carson says he wants to add neighborhood clinics and says reducing the amount of lead inside your home is no longer enough.
Despite work in recent years to lower the number of children exposed to lead, experts in the Rochester area say it’s still a serious issue.
“There are still over 120 kids every year who are exposed to high levels and we need to try to protect those kids,” says Dr. Katrina Smith Korfmacher, professor of Environmental Medicine, UR.
Doctor Smith Korfmacher says children are most at-risk for lead poisoning. It can lead to brain damage and even personality disorders.
Carson told the Senate Banking Committee that he would make lead poisoning a priority. The announcement came during his confirmation hearing to become the next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development or HUD.
Specifically, Carson wants to add neighborhood clinics. We asked Doctor Smith Korfmacher if she thinks that’s really needed.
“In general having more health services and more access is important for kids to be able to get screened for lead and get whatever services they need,” says Doctor Smith Korfmacher.
But she says lead poisoning can’t be treated, so the clinics would need to focus on prevention, providing more ways for people to test their homes for lead. Especially, those who live in a house built before 1978 which are considered high-risk for having lead paint.
“HUD has a really important role to play there in terms of funding lead hazard control grants and supporting regulations that make publicly owned and publicly regulated housing lead safe,” the doctor tells us.
Experts say Rochester has seen the most improvement in all of upstate New York when it comes to reducing the amount of lead children are exposed to. We’ve seen almost a ninety percent reduction in the number of kids with elevated blood lead levels in the past fifteen years.