Sen. Peters, colleagues call on HUD, EPA to improve lead oversight

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U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., in separate letters to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency, urged the federal government to increase their oversight of lead exposure.

In the letter to the EPA, which was coauthored by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., urged acting administrator Andrew Wheeler to implement a system through which the federal government could ensure that states comply with the Lead and Copper Rule.

“Flint is a stark, devastating example of just why a national and comprehensive oversight approach is essential,” the senators wrote in the letter. “People died after being literally poisoned by their own drinking water, and thousands of Flint children will suffer the lasting consequences of local and state management failures coupled with ineffective federal oversight.”

The federal Lead and Copper Rule caps the level of lead in drinking water at 15 ppb.

Under state law, that’s being reduced from 15 ppb to 12 ppb by 2025.

Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, has previously said that the updated rules don’t go far enough.

“I think we should be leading the country and pushing the EPA to update the Lead and Copper Rule nationally,” Ananich said in January. “Families are still operating under what [Gov. Snyder] calls the ‘dumb and dangerous’ rule.”

Peters’ office noted in a statement that “even a minimal amount of lead exposure can have dangerous impacts – particularly on children.”

In the letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Peters called on the department to improve its oversight of lead-based paint in federally-assisted housing.

“According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead-based paint hazards, such as dust containing lead and chips from deteriorated lead-based paint, are the most common source of lead exposure for U.S. children,” Peters wrote in the letter.

The letter was signed by nine other U.S. senators, including Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., both potential 2020 presidential candidates.

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