Senator Yudichak and Members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure Discuss Legislative Recommendations of Advisory Committee and Task Force Report on Lead Exposure

Harrisburg, May 7, 2019 – Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon) and legislative members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure held a press conference today to discuss the legislative recommendations that were part of ‘Lead Exposure Risks and Response in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure.’ The legislative members of the task force included Senators Lisa Baker (R – Luzerne/Pike/Susquehanna/Wayne/Wyoming), Wayne Fontana (D – Allegheny), Judy Schwank (D – Berks), Pat Stefano (R – Fayette/Somerset/Westmoreland) and Gene Yaw (R – Bradford/Lycoming/Sullivan/Susquehanna/Union).

“The members of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure, created by Senate Resolution 33, have worked tirelessly to analyze the public health threat of lead exposure and their report underscores that lead exposure is an issue in every Pennsylvania county. We come together today, in the spirit of bipartisanship, to advance the legislative policy recommendations put forth by the Joint State Government Commission that will better protect Pennsylvania children from the risks of lead exposure and lead poisoning,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

The advisory committee and task force made the following recommendations, several of which are being addressed through legislation announced at today’s press conference:

  • Require universal blood screenings for children;
  • Mandate inspections/certifications of child-care facilities with vulnerable populations;
  • Ensure safe housing is available to families through a residential rental property certification program;
  • Establish a statewide rental housing registry;
  • Establish a lead abatement grant program to assist property owners in conducting lead abatement;
  • Establish an interagency council to coordinate implementation of lead prevention programs and policies among the relevant state agencies;
  • Require all school drinking water systems to be inspected and certified;
  • Clarify plumbing system lead ban;
  • Permit municipal authorities operating public drinking water system to replace lateral lead service lines;
  • Require lead service line replacements and restrict partial lead water service line replacements;
  • Adopt the Uniform Property Maintenance Code; and
  • Provide guidance on private well construction.

Senator Lisa Baker and Senator Yudichak have introduced Senate Bill 312, which would require universal blood testing for children. Senate Bill 312 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“We have known for a while now how debilitating lead exposure is to the health and development of children. Recent revelations of lead tainted water in schools and homes have raised additional alarms. There is an obligation to have every child tested, in order to find out who has been affected, to monitor and treat those who have, and to locate the source of contamination so preventative measures can be taken,” said Senator Baker.

Senator Judy Schwank has introduced Senate Bill 39, which will require lead testing at child daycare programs. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to include lead testing of water, paint, soil and dust in the licensing process for child daycare programs. Senate Bill 39 has been referred to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

“My bill, SB 39, aims to protect children in day care programs by ensuring the facilities where they play and learn at the earliest ages are tested for lead,” Senator Schwank said.

Senator Gene Yaw will introduce legislation that requires all school drinking water systems to be tested for lead contamination.

“Lead contamination in schools and in public drinking water supplies is a real threat across our state and our nation,” said Senator Gene Yaw. “It’s unfortunate that schools, a place where our children spend much of their time, can have unsafe levels of lead in their water supply. The bill is one more step we can take to protect our children and school employees from potential health hazards.”

Senator Wayne Fontana plans to introduce a bill that will establish a statewide rental housing registry.

“Our fundamental job as public officials is to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. With increasingly aging infrastructure throughout our Commonwealth, it’s imperative that we do all we can to help local communities on lead abatement projects,” said Senator Fontana. “We must also monitor the sources of lead contamination in our public spaces and in private homes, so that people are educated to what degree they may be exposed. As a result of the study recommendations, my legislation will establish a statewide rental housing registry that has been certified as lead free or lead safe so as to allow potential tenants to verify if housing they are considering will be safe for their families.”

Senator Pat Stefano will be introducing legislation that clarifies the plumbing system lead ban.

“Consumer education is key in preventing lead exposure. That’s why I am introducing legislation that would put educational information in the hands of consumers who may be most at risk for led exposure,” said Senator Stefano.

The Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure was formed after legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak, SR 33, was approved in 2017. The Joint State Government Commission released the report in April. The report is available online at http://jsg.legis.state.pa.us/

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Watch Press Conference

 

Senator Yudichak’s Statement on Lead Exposure Risks and Responses in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure

Harrisburg, April 29, 2019 — State Senator John Yudichak (D- Luzerne/Carbon) issued the following statement after the Joint State Government Commission released the report, “Lead Exposure Risks and Responses in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure”:    

“With the report, we are one step closer to developing a more comprehensive lead assessment and remediation strategy in Pennsylvania. It is now time for the General Assembly to come together and pass the legislative recommendations put forth by the task force so that we can protect Pennsylvanians, especially our children, from the dangers of lead exposure,” said Senator John Yudichak.

The Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure was formed after legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak, SR 33, was approved in 2017. Senator Yudichak will be hosting a press conference on May 7, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol Media Center with members of the Task Force on Lead Exposure to discuss the legislative recommendations in the report.  

To read the report, please click here.

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Senator Yudichak and Senator Baker Host Roundtable on Lead Exposure and Lead Testing

Wilkes-Barre, February 13, 2018 — Senator John Yudichak (D-14) and Senator Lisa Baker (R-20), joined by members of the Senate Lead Task Force, hosted a roundtable on lead exposure, lead testing, and lead abatement policies in Pennsylvania.

The roundtable featured Luzerne County Head Start, Maternal and Family Health Services, Early Intervention Services for Luzerne and Wyoming Counties, and St. Luke’s Hospital – Miners Campus.

Last October, the Pennsylvania State Senate unanimously approved Senate Resolution 33 — a measure authored by Senator Yudichak that created a statewide Senate Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee under the direction of the Joint State Government Commission.

 

Representing organizations that provide direct health and educational services to thousands of children in northeastern Pennsylvania, the roundtable participants added valuable input on newly proposed legislation by Senator Yudichak and Senator Baker that would require universal lead testing for children and expectant mothers.

“Universal lead testing is an effective and essential tool in preventing lead exposure in Pennsylvania children,” said Senator John Yudichak. “With over seventy percent of homes in Luzerne County being built prior to the 1978 federal ban on lead paint, it is imperative that universal lead testing become a primary prevention strategy for lead exposure in Pennsylvania.”

Currently, federal law requires children covered by Medical Assistance and the Affordable Care Act to be tested.

“Head Start screens all children who go through our program for lead exposure. It’s a national regulation that we follow and we know that even very low levels of lead exposure can have lasting negative effects on children,” said Lynn Biga, Executive Director of Luzerne County Head Start.

Lead exposure can cause long-term neurological and physical impairments, and children in at least 20 Pennsylvania cities, including Wilkes-Barre have tested positive for elevated lead levels.

“Although a lot of work has been done to determine and document the serious health effects of lead exposure, it too often remains a hidden threat. The effects are especially devastating in the development of children. There is much to be done in terms of alerting people to the dangers, identifying sources of lead contamination, and paying for removing and eliminating the risks,” said Senator Lisa Baker.

The roundtable was also attended by staff of the Joint State Government Commission, who are conducting research for a comprehensive report required from the Senate Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee.

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Senator Yudichak Hosts Senate Environmental Resources & Energy Committee Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation

PITTSTON, October 30, 2017– The state Senate Environmental Resources & Energy (ERE) Committee held a public hearing today in Pittston on lead exposure and mitigation in Pennsylvania. Testifiers at the hearing offered a regional perspective on lead policy in Northeastern Pennsylvania as well as an overview of services that state agencies provide currently to address lead exposure. 

“Lead exposure can lead to long-term health consequences, especially for children and older adults. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, efforts to mitigate lead exposure like the city of Wilkes-Barre doing biannual testing of its public water system and Pittston leading county-wide efforts to address aging infrastructure through a new municipal land bank authority are laudable,” said Senator John Yudichak.

 

“However, we can do more and we should do more. Today’s committee hearing, along with the work of the Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee will help us establish policies to protect children and vulnerable populations from lead poisoning,” added Senator Yudichak.

Earlier this year, the Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Yudichak (SR 33) which creates a Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee that will work with the Joint State Government Commission to study the extent of lead contamination in Pennsylvania and provide recommendations on changes to laws and policies. The Lead Task Force and Advisory Committee is expected to hold its first organizational meeting in December.  

Testifiers at today’s hearing included representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Health, City of Pittston, City of Wilkes-Barre, SGS, Pediatric Associates of Kingston, and Pennsylvania American Water.

The state Senate ERE Committee is chaired by Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and John Yudichak (D-14).

 

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Media Advisory: Senator Yudichak to Host Public Hearing on Lead Exposure and Mitigation

PITTSTON, October 27, 2017 − State Senator John Yudichak (D-14) will host a public hearing on lead exposure and mitigation in Pittston with the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.

The hearing will be held on Monday, October 30, 2017 beginning at 11:00 AM at the John P. Cosgrove Center, Pittston Memorial Library, 47 Broad Street in Pittston, PA.

To watch the hearing online, visit http://www.senatoryudichak.com/live.

The hearing is being held in Pittston to gain a regional perspective from Northeastern Pennsylvania. The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is chaired by Senators Gene Yaw (R-23) and Senator Yudichak.

Those expected to offer testimony during the hearing include Lisa Daniels, Acting Deputy Secretary for Water Programs, Department of Environmental Protection; Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Department of Health; Jennifer Berrier, Director, Bureau of Occupational and Industrial Safety; Michael Lombardo, Vice Chair, Pittston Redevelopment Authority; Henry Radulski, Health Director for the City of Wilkes-Barre; Cherie Gudz, Vice President, Environment, Health and Safety, SGS; and David Kaufman, Vice President, Engineering, Pennsylvania American Water.

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Senate Approves Resolution Creating Task Force to Investigate Threat of Lead Exposure in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, June 6, 2017 — Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Resolution 33 (SR 33) — which creates a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem — was approved unanimously by the full Senate today. The resolution had been approved unanimously by the Environmental Resources and Energy committee at the end of April.

Senator Yudichak introduced the resolution earlier this session because lead exposure can threaten the health and well-being of every Pennsylvanian—especially senior citizens and children. “The task force report will advance cooperative efforts to arm the General Assembly with better information and best practice recommendations to develop new lead abatement programs that more aggressively mitigate lead exposure in Pennsylvania,” said State Senator John Yudichak.

The resolution calls for the Senate to establish a task force on lead exposure comprised of the chairs of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee and two members appointed by the Senate President pro tempore and the Minority Leader. An advisory committee of the Joint State Government Commission will conduct a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania law and public policy related to lead exposure and abatement practices and then submit a report to the task force and full Senate within 18-months. The report must assess the age of housing and infrastructure, lead exposure threats, and identify the prevalence of lead in structures where children spend significant time.

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Environmental Resources and Energy Committee Approves Resolution Creating Task Force to Investigate Threat of Lead Exposure in Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, April 25, 2017— Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) announced that Senate Resolution 33 (SR 33)—which would create a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem—was approved unanimously today by the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. SR 33 now goes to a vote of the full Senate.

The resolution calls for the Senate to establish a task force on lead exposure comprised of the chairs of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee and two members appointed by the Senate President pro tempore and the Minority Leader.

It also calls for the Joint State Government Commission to convene an advisory committee, which will include the Secretaries of Health, Environmental Protection, and Labor and Industry as well as the chair of the Public Utility Commission. The Physician General and two medical professionals with expertise in pediatric care and lead poisoning will also be appointed to the advisory committee. Representatives of municipal water authorities, rural water companies, water utilities incorporated in Pennsylvania, urban and rural school districts, a local health official, and the executive director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania will assist with a comprehensive review of Pennsylvania law and public policy on lead abatement and exposure.

Within 18-months, the Joint State Government Commission must submit a report to the Senate detailing recommendations to amend existing laws or regulations or enact new legislation that will reduce the risk of lead contamination in Pennsylvania. The report must assess the age of housing and infrastructure, lead exposure threats, and identify the prevalence of lead in structures where children spend significant time.

“The Senate Lead Task Force will marshal the resources of medical professionals, industry leaders, and cabinet officials to provide the Senate with expert recommendations so that we can act quickly and efficiently to reduce the risk of lead exposure in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Yudichak. “It is inexcusable for any Pennsylvanian to fear that their health or their family’s health could be jeopardized because of ineffective lead polices or sufficient lead abatement programs.”

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Senator Yudichak Calls for Creation of Task Force to Investigate Threat of Lead Exposure in PA

Nanticoke, February 28, 2017— Senator John T. Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon) and other lawmakers will soon re-introduce a resolution (SR 33) that creates a bipartisan task force to investigate the scope of Pennsylvania’s lead exposure problem and recommend changes to existing laws, regulations, and procedures that will reduce the risk of lead contamination in Pennsylvania’s schools, daycare centers, homes, and water-delivery infrastructure.  Senator Yudichak proposed creating a similar task force during the 2015-2016 legislative session.

The resolution also creates an advisory committee, reporting to the Joint State Government Commission, that will work closely with the Senate task force to complete its review and produce a report detailing its findings and recommendations to the Senate within 18-months. The advisory committee will include cabinet secretaries, pediatricians, representatives of water authorities and private companies, maintenance workers in school districts, and the Executive Director of the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.

“We cannot eliminate the threat posed by lead contamination until we know the true extent of the problem in Pennsylvania’s homes, schools, daycare centers, and water-delivery infrastructure,” said Senator Yudichak. “The task force will leverage the expertise of medical professionals, agency officials, and industry leaders who combat the dangers of lead contamination every day and are best suited to recommend policies and procedures to improve the quality of Pennsylvania’s drinking water. Pennsylvanians should never fear for theirs or their children’s health when they pour water from the faucet or drink from a water fountain.”

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