The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on Monday announced new agreements between HUD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to manage dangerous exposures to lead.

One of the memorandums of understanding (MOUs) “expands, updates, and reaffirms” a previous 1997 agreement between the EPA and HUD to coordinate enforcement efforts related to lead-based paint hazards in housing, the announcement explained.

The second MOU is between the EPA, HUD and CDC to launch a pilot program in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. It will “facilitate information sharing about communities with high blood lead levels or higher lead exposure risks, to help them focus their respective and collaborative efforts working in communities with the greatest risks.”

The agencies will use the information gained from the program to expand their efforts in combating the risks associated with lead exposure in existing housing inventory. across the region.

According to data from the EPA, 87% of homes built before 1940 have some lead-based paint, as do 24% of homes built between 1960 and 1978. The use of lead paint in homes was banned in 1978, but exposure to it can have severe consequences for both children and adults.

The agencies estimate that as many as 34 million homes in the U.S. have lead paint applied to some portion of the structure. And 3.3 million U.S. homes have children living in them who face some kind of lead-based paint hazard, including 2 million households classified as “low-income.”

Children are particularly susceptible to the harmful health impacts of lead exposure, the announcement explained.

“Over 1 million children in the United States suffer from the irreversible impacts of lead poisoning, including reduced intelligence, behavioral and learning disabilities, and effects on many other body systems; new cases continue to be diagnosed every year,” the announcement of the MOUs state.

“Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children.”

Adults with lead exposure can develop high blood pressure, memory loss and a reduction in motor skills, but infants and children are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead exposure.

“Infants and children [are at higher risk because their] growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead,” the agencies stated. “They can be exposed from multiple sources and may experience irreversible and life-long health effects.”

Read More