For Immediate Release: February 1, 2007
Contact: Wendy Morgan
Assistant Attorney General
STATE OF VERMONT
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
109 STATE STREET
MONTPELIER - Attorney General William Sorrell and Acting Commissioner of Health Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN, released the results of a year-long study of lead poisoning in Vermont. The report recommends a wide variety of actions the State can take to reduce the effects of lead on all Vermonters.
“The effects of lead on our children are shocking,” said Attorney General Sorrell, “including reductions in IQ, problems requiring special education, and increased delinquent behavior.”
A conservative estimate of the cost of lead poisoning on the children we know have been lead poisoned in just one year is more than $300,000 in health care and special education costs, and $80 million in lost earnings over their lifetimes.
Acting Commissioner Moffatt explained that more than 300 children in Vermont are poisoned each year at current levels of concern. If the level is lowered in accordance with current medical research, another 2,600 children per year need to be protected.
“Education and prevention outreach have been successful up to a point,” said Acting Commissioner Moffatt. “But the number of children affected is no longer declining at a rate acceptable to the Department of Health. We need to accelerate our outreach and prevention efforts.”
Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a national expert on children and environmental neurotoxins including lead, emphasized the importance of reducing lead exposure before children are poisoned, instead of our current system of responding to test results that show that a child has already been poisoned. He also explained that increased risks are not limited to children: as blood lead levels increase for US adults, the risks of death from heart attack or stroke double.
Over the next several weeks, the Vermont legislature will be considering proposed legislation to reduce lead in consumer products for sale in Vermont, particularly children’s products. The legislature will also consider amendments to Vermont’s law on lead in housing to address weaknesses in our current law, particularly its focus on children in rental housing. “Forty one percent of the children poisoned in Vermont are in owner-occupied housing. We need to do more to protect them,” said Acting Commissioner Moffatt.
Attorney General Sorrell and Acting Commissioner Moffatt also announced the appointment of an inter-agency enforcement team to formulate a comprehensive plan for enforcement of Vermont’s lead laws, and the creation of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Committee to monitor and support the implementation of the recommendations in the “Get the Lead Out of Vermont” report.
A copy of the report is available at the Attorney General’s website at: http://www.atg.state.vt.us/. In addition, further information for protecting children from lead can be found at the Department of Health’s website at www.healthvermont.gov/enviro/lead/lead.aspx or by calling 1-800-439-8550.