Progress on Lead Poisoning Bill, But Last Push Needed

With Governor Sununu and State Representatives on board, we need to urge New Hampshire Senators to vote yes

New Hampshire State House. C. Hanchey via CC 2.0

New Hampshire state senators are expected to vote on the childhood lead poisoning bill on January 18. Photo: C. Hanchey via CC 2.0

We’re in the home stretch of our work to strengthen New Hampshire’s lead laws to better protect kids from the preventable tragedy of childhood lead poisoning. With two major developments on SB 247 last week – Governor Sununu’s strong endorsement of the bill, followed by an overwhelmingly supportive vote by the state House of Representatives – we have just one last hurdle to pass: a positive vote from the Senate.

Our Granite State community has already made a difference in helping to get the bill this far. Now we need you to take action one more time to push it over the finish line. Please, contact your New Hampshire Senator now and urge them to vote YES on SB 247, as amended by the House.

New Hampshire’s Lead Poisoning Problem

As I’ve written previously, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children – even low levels of lead poisoning can cause permanent, irreversible harm, robbing kids of their full potential. And with the oldest housing stock in the country, New Hampshire has a particularly egregious lead problem. According to the New Hampshire Pediatrics Society, our rate of childhood lead poisoning is 2.5 times greater than the national average. Making matters worse, the number of NH kids tested for lead poisoning is far too low, meaning that the actual number of cases of lead poisoning is likely much higher than is documented. What’s more, the blood lead level that triggers regulatory action by the state is outdated and inconsistent with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended standard.

Strong Progress Toward Needed Solutions

Over the past year, CLF and our partners have worked tirelessly with Senator Dan Feltes and others to develop and advance much-needed legislation to strengthen New Hampshire’s lead laws. The bill – SB 247 – has taken numerous twists and turns throughout the process. After passing the Senate last year, it was retained in the House Finance Committee – usually a challenge for any bill. However, thanks to the hard work of House Finance Division III and the strong leadership of House Finance leadership – particularly Representatives Neal Kurk and Frank Byron – SB 247 emerged from the Committee stronger than it went in, with the House legislative process culminating in a 266 to 87 vote to pass the bill.

As amended, SB 247 will, among other things:

  • Dramatically improve New Hampshire’s unacceptably low screening rates, requiring testing for all 1 and 2 year olds (with the ability of parents to opt out);
  • Align New Hampshire’s regulator “action level” (the blood lead level that triggers intervention and support by the Department of Health and Human Services) with the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended standard;
  • Address lead in drinking water in schools and childcare facilities;
  • Establish a loan guarantee program to assist landlords and homeowners with lead remediation.

Help Us Cross the Finish Line

There have been numerous champions of this bill, from elected officials to public health and housing advocates, to affected families who have been willing to share their stories. And throughout the lengthy process, CLF members have repeatedly stepped up to voice their support.

We’re close to the finish line, and there’s one last step you can take to help us cross it:

Please take 3 minutes today to call or email your New Hampshire Senator and urge them to better protect our kids from lead by voting YES on SB 247, as amended by the House. Click here for your Senator’s contact information. If you don’t know who your Senator is, just click here. Thank you for taking action to protect New Hampshire’s children.

Before you go... CLF is working every day to create real, systemic change for New England’s environment. And we can’t solve these big problems without people like you. Will you be a part of this movement by considering a contribution today? If everyone reading our blog gave just $10, we’d have enough money to fund our legal teams for the next year.