, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY) called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) not to muzzle an independent advisory group responsible for providing policy recommendations on lead prevention to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Director of the CDC.
Last month, the CDC announced plans to demote the Advisory Committee on Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention (ACCLPP) from an independent, Secretary-level advisory committee to a sub-council of the Board of Scientific Counselors within the CDC National Center for Environmental Health. This reclassification would threaten the advisory committee’s independence and transparency and would weaken the value of their policy recommendations.
“With large numbers of children still suffering from dangerous blood levels, now is the time to focus on providing healthy environments where they can live, play, and learn free from lead hazards,” Slaughter said in a release. “Lead poisoning is an environmental disease that can be prevented with the right measures, and I hope the CDC will see ACCLPP’s independent recommendations as essential for eradicating lead poisoning. I strongly urge the CDC to reconsider its decision.”
Slaughter’s letter to the CDC comes during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW), which aims to raise awareness about lead poisoning, especially in children. Children under the age of six are the most vulnerable to lead poisoning, and according to the CDC, an estimated 535,000 children – or one in every 38 children – have dangerously high blood lead levels.
According to the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning, the number of detected cases of lead poisoning in Monroe County children under 6 years old fell for the third straight year, down to 182 children in 2012 from 222 in 2011 and 290 in 2010. Since 2000, the number of children under six years old in Monroe County testing positive for lead poisoning has declined by over 85 percent.
“We’ve come so far in our quest to eradicate lead poisoning in our community, and now is not the time to turn our back and move lead poisoning prevention to the back burner,” said Mel Callan, co-chair of the Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning. “We’ve seen lead poisoning cases in children drop almost ten-fold since 2000, and if we want to ultimately eliminate this threat to our kids, we must maintain our collaborative approach and our investment in detection and prevention.”
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Lead is a highly toxic metal that when absorbed by the skin, inhaled, or swallowed can cause behavioral and cognitive problems, damage to vital organs, and mental and physical development problems. To learn more, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/nlppw.htm or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD. To contact the New York State Department of Health about NLPPW events, please visithttp://www.cdc.gov/healthyhomes/programs/ny.htm.