Lowering lead action levels remains at top of agenda

LANSING, Mich. — Today, on the 1,000th day since Flint residents started to receive untreated water, Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D–Flint) along with Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. (D–East Lansing) have proposed two sets of legislation that would aim to eliminate all lead exposure in Michigan.

One is a bill that would incrementally lower Michigan’s lead action level in drinking water — from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 5 ppb by the end of 2021 — with a goal of reaching 0 ppb. This legislation was crafted in response to water officials who delayed alerting the public about dangerously high levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water.

“It baffles me that we have to talk about these things in 2017,” Sen. Ananich said. “We should never gamble with the safety of our water. Our goal is zero lead in the water and I will keep fighting until we hit that mark.”

The second bill would reduce the blood lead action level for children living in rental property from 10 micrograms per deciliter to 5 micrograms per deciliter. This bill will follow the Center for Disease Control standard for what constitutes lead poisoning in children.

“We know there is no safe blood lead level in children,” Sen. Hertel said. “These bills are a crucial part of ensuring protection of our state’s most vulnerable population, children.”

Senators Ananich and Hertel have also introduced a two-bill package to reestablish the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Commission, which was authorized in Public Act 400 of 2004 and sunset in 2010. The commission would join public and private sector personnel who would work together to prevent, increase public awareness of, test, and treat childhood lead poisoning.

Currently, the commission is functioning as the Child Lead Poisoning Elimination Board as a result of executive action; this legislation would help ensure that it would continue from one administration to the next.

“Flint has been without safe drinking water now for 1,000 days,” Sen. Ananich said. “No community should ever have to go through what we have been going through, and no other parent should have to feel the despair of learning that their child has lead in their system. These bills are steps in the right direction to keep that from happening ever again in our state.”

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