AB 249: School-site Lead Testing and Mitigation, My Testimony to the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials
March 14, 2023
by Dr. Plastic Picker
On behalf of my committee and pediatricians, I urge your committee to vote Yes on AB 249. My main job is in clinic and I am a front line pediatrician for 2000 families. Indeed, most of our membership within the AAP are that, your community pediatricians who treat our state’s children.
I am here to remind you that lead is a Pediatric Neurotoxin, and it’s an accumulative neurotoxin and it is stored in bones and teeth and never leaves the body. Children are uniquely susceptible to even low lead levels which can lower IQ and cause learning and behavioral problems which, in turn, elevate costs in health care, education, and criminal justice.
The reason I am here is very personal. I see the effects of lead pollution in real-life in my clinic, as I do increasing number of evaluations for children with ADHD and autism, prescribe more and more stimulants and have more children on antipsychotics to address behavioral issues – and try to help families navigate the difficult world of special education and medical services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA services. As my work day is filled with the increasing demands of these children who need our help, I can’t help but remember that much of that chaos that has been caused could have been averted if we had addressed leaded drinking water earlier.
Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as birth malformations. There are astronomical economic costs from the negative impacts from exposure to lead by everyone. For every dollar spent on controlling lead hazards, it is estimated that $100 would be returned in health benefits, increased IQ, higher lifetime earnings, tax revenue, reduced spending on special education, and reduced criminal activity.
Children at highest risk are the very young (including the developing fetus) and the economically disadvantaged. This is because undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium or iron, are lacking.
Lets not wait to address the clear danger of leaded drinking water in our schools that threaten our states’ future. It’s not fair to those children attending those schools now, and it’s simply not fair as it’s likely children in environmental justice communities.