« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
LEAD BASED PAINT POISONING AMENDMENTS OF 1972
THURSDAY, MARCH 9, 1972
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:33 a.m. in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Edward M. Kennedy (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Kennedy, Pell, and Javits.
Staff members present: Le Roy G. Goldman, professional staff member; Jay B. Cutler, minority counsel.
Senator KENNEDY. The subcommittee will come to order. I first of all want to express my deep sense of appreciation to the witnesses for rearranging their schedules to be with us for the second time today. We initially scheduled these hearings on February 24, and then we attended 3 successive days, starting early this week, and because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the Judiciary's special consideration of the Attorney General, we had to change it to Thursday and Friday, and those hearings have gone on longer than any of us had anticipated.
I don't like to be put in a position of choosing between the importance and the significance of passing legislation affecting the welfare and well-being and the lives of children against the qualities of our Attorney General, but nonetheless I am going to have to excuse myself to attend those hearings early in the course of our hearings this morning, and the subcommittee will be chaired by Senator Pell.
But I want to extend very sincere apologies to the members of the industry who have been kind enough to be with us here this morning, and who are very importantly affected by this legislation. You should be given the utmost consideration, and I can assure you that I will review in careful detail their comments and their responses to the various questions.
I have had an opportunity to review their testimony last night and again early this morning, and so I want to file my statement in its entirety as a part of the record, and I will make very brief opening remarks.
(The prepared statement of Senator Kennedy follows:)
STATEMENT BY HON. EDWARD M. KENNEDY, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS, ON S. 3080, AMENDMENT TO LEAD-BASED PAINT POISONING PREVENTION ACT
Senator KENNEDY. This morning the Health Subcommittee begins the second day of hearings on S. 3080, the Senate amendment to the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act. On the first day of hearings the subcommittee received testimony from the Department of
Housing and Urban Development about the results of a sample paint survey conducted by the National Bureau of Standards for HUD. Mr. Harold Finger told the subcommittee that 46 of 58 interior paints on the sample had a lead content of less than 0.1 percent. He also reported that eight of the samples included in the survey contained more than 1 percent lead content, despite labels indicating that the lead content is below 1 percent.
Committee members are deeply concerned about the need for adequate funding to support programs authorized by the Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act. Mayor William Hart of East Orange, N.J., eloquently described the critical demands placed on his city's health department in the struggle against this tragic disease. He made it clear that the crisis in city agencies can be helped with Federal assistance.
Lead-based paint poisoning in young children is probably the most insidious disease affecting the Nation's preschool children. Not only because the symptoms of lead poisoning are mistaken by physicians and incorrectly diagnosed, but also because the hazards and damaging effects of this crippler are entirely preventable. A mother from Baltimore emotionally told the subcommittee that her 10-year-old son today functions at the level of a 3-year-old because he suffered irreparable brain damage from lead-based paint. Another parent told the subcommittee that her child's symptoms were tragically misinterpreted and doctors delayed arriving at the proper diagnosis. Not until the child lapsed into a coma was she admitted for hospital care even though she suffered with unmistakable symptoms of lead poisoning several days before hospital authorities recognized what was wrong. Sadly, by then, it was too late—she died 2 weeks after entering the hospital.
Today the subcommittee looks forward to testimony from the principal health official responsible for lead-based paint poisoning programs in the city of New York. Like most large cities, New York has too many homes in deprived and neglected communities where the tragedies of lead-based paint poisoning are shamefully much too commonplace. In my own hometown of Boston, Dr. Robert Klein last week told the first Massachusetts State Conference on Lead Paint Poisoning that in a 1971 survey of 473 homes, 800 children were found to be suffering from lead poisoning—and 30 percent of those children are suffering permanent brain damage.
The demand for a vigorous attack on the problem of lead poisoning is most compelling as heard in the plea for help in the letter I received from a Boston mother who was overcome with guilt “fearing she would be labeled as a negligent mother for placing her child in a playpen, against a wall, with a hole in it” from which her child began eating lead paint. And so she writes:
I am able to speak more openly on this. When the Federal Government can spend millions of dollars sending men to fight a war, or land on the moon, how can they neglect the welfare of our children? Why hasn't the Federal Government banned the selling of lead-based paint, why hasn't it been mandatory that prenatal clinics, hospitals, and others dealing with the maternal care hold education classes about this?
Possible answers to her questions may lie in the testimony of Mayor Hart. He told the subcommittee about abandoned mine shafts in Appalachia that were finally sealed up after warning signs failed to
prevent the death of children who accidentally fell in them—and a soup manufacturer that was ordered shutdown when a customer died from a serving of the company's product. The mayor sees that effective action occurs only when victims in affluent families are stricken. He wants to know why we can't move against those tragedies affecting
Thus, the responsibility of this subcommittee is clear. We must approve legislation that will resolve the problems facing mothers of young children, to provide testing and screening for children with elevated blood levels; and to launch effective educational programs for parents and health professionals to make them alert to the dangers of paint ingestion. Strict limits on the lead content of interior paints is one way to provide the protection required to prevent young
children from getting lead sick. But it is equally important for the appriate Federal agencies to receive adequate resources to carry out provisions of the legislation. I intend to continue working in the Senate for these goals.
I am happy to welcome today's witnesses. This morning we are scheduled to hear from:
Congressman William Ryan, who has led the fight against leadbased paint poisoning in the House of Representatives;
Dr. Vincent Guinee from the New York City lead poisoning program is prepared to explain both housing and health enforcement problems relating to lead poisoning.
Representatives of the National Paint and Coatings Association will discuss the industry's proposals for controlling the menace of lead poisoning;
Mr. Jonathan Stein from the Philadelphia Legal Services has effectively engaged Philadelphia health and housing officials in the struggle against lead poisoning, he is accompanied by Mrs. Veronica Singleton who has four grandchildren that suffered from lead based paint poisoning
Mr. Fred Fuges, accompanied by Mrs. Ethel Jamison and Mrs. Bessie Goodwyn will describe how Kings County Hospital in New York has begun to involve community participation in education and testing programs.
I am extremely hopeful we can have the full cooperation of the industry. I have had an opportunity over the past couple of years to visit with them and listen to them, and I think by and large they have taken an extremely constructive and positive attitude. I think they have demonstrated their very deep concern about this problem, as it affects the people of this country, and I am extremely hopeful that as we move into this area in a more significant way than we have in the past, because of the nature of the problem, that the industry will be able to help and guide us along and also perhaps to give us some areas for new ground.
I am mindful of the point made in their testimony to the effect that with the passage of stringent requirements suggested in the legislation that this will affect a number of particularly small manufacturers who are involved in paint production.
I am just wondering if we decide to move ahead on legislation, whether we should not have some provisions in the legislation which will help and assist those small manufacturers in the area of research so that they don't bear a particularly heavy burden.
I would support programs to provide Federal resources to assist small manufacturers to have additional research. Since the major companies, such as du Pont, have been able to crack the atom, so to speak, in terms of research, and have found out how to produce paint in a lead free way, shouldn't we ask them to make those techniques available to other manufacturers, unless there is a secret involved with respect to competition.
I don't know that, and I would be interested in what comments you might have. Obviously, none of us are putting a particular burden of
kind of progress on a particular segment of industry. I think that the members of this committee are as concerned about the welfare and well being of small manufacturers as any group or committee in the Congress, and I would mention also that we are very much aware that there is a great amount of paint that is used in our society that does not relate to the interior or even the exterior of houses, but is used for industrial purposes and that we have very little interest in this in terms of lead content of paint, and obviously we want to be able to cooperate and work with the industry in terms of insuring them that this is not the area where our primary interest lies.
We understand, and are hopeful that you will be able to give us some guidelines so that we will not provide additional kinds of burdens on the industry.
So I look at this meeting and hearing as one of a friendly exchange, one from which we in the committee can profit immensely. I am extremely hopeful that the industry can help and assist us.
We have in the legislation some strong ideas about the problem and how best to meet it, but I for one am completely open in trying to find ways and means to achieve an objective without providing an undue kind of burden on the industry.
So I want to call on Senator Javits.
Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, I welcome what you have said, and I don't think that we should necessarily be completely involved in trying to deal with the results of what might be archaic industry practices, and we have a responsibility to deal with what there is, and as there are probably several millions of buildings which are susceptible of this danger because of the way in which the premises are painted, but must look for safeguards for the future.
This may involve us with relationships with other jurisdictions here in the Senate, but I am sure that can be worked out. So I join the Chairman in asking the industry to come forward with its best suggestions and affirm with him the fact that I am sure the industry is as interested as we are in the dangers which have been presented for children in lead-based paint poisoning and the future dangers which could be avoided by an industry approach.
In addition, I would say, Mr. Chairman, it is probably good business, and it may well be that many, many, premises will be repainted should the industry come up with a better paint. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing like an incentive to do what is right in the public interest.
I think the Chair has taken an excellent line in this, and I am very glad to join in.
Senator KENNEDY. Thank you, Senator Javits.
able William F. Ryan, Member of Congress from New York. Congressman Ryan is a graduate of Princeton University and received his law degree from Columbia. For 7 years, he served as an assistant district attorney for New York County. He then became Democratic leader of New York's seventh assembly district and 3 years later was elected to Congress. He currently serves on the Interior and Insular Affairs and the Judiciary Committees in the House. I remember attending a meeting with Congressman Ryan 2 or 3 years
2 ago over in the House of Representatives, where he first made the Members of the Congress and of the Senate aware of the dimensions of this problem. I want to welcome you.
Senator Javits. Congressman Ryan, Mr. Chairman, represents the district I represented when I was in the House of Representatives. I can affirm he has a very appropriate interest in what is a very great danger in that area, as well as in others.
Congressman Ryan, I will need to leave shortly before 10, but I came to express my association with the efforts of the Chair in this whole field.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM F. RYAN, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Ryan. Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to appear before this distinguished subcommittee today. And I want to commend you, Senator Kennedy, and your subcommittee—not only for initiating these hearings—but for your deep personal concern and unceasing efforts to insure that each and every child in this Nation has the opportunity to grow up in good health.
I have a rather lengthy prepared statement which I would like to submit for the record; and knowing of the long list of excellent witnesses that you are to hear from this morning, I shall just make a very few brief remarks.
Senator KENNEDY. Your statement will be included in the record in full, Congressman Ryan at the end of your testimony.
Mr. Ryan. I think that it is important to recognize that the very fact that these hearings ar so necessary demonstrates that our Government has failed to live up to its obligations to the children of America and to insure that they are safeguarded from the suffering and illness brought on by childhood lead poisoning,
Lead poisoning is not some rare malady waiting for a miracle cure. It is totally man-made and totally preventable disease. It exists only because we let it exist.
The failure of this Nation to meet the menace of childhood lead poisoning has sentenced thousands of young children to lives of misery, of disease, and even death. It is a stain on our national conscience.
The reason for this failure is as simple as it is intolerable: The victims of lead poisoning are the poor and the black youngsters of our inner cities, condemned to live in slum housing, without adequate nutrition, and without sufficient health care. They are America's forgotten children, her invisible children.
This Government has closed its eyes to the plight of the children of our urban cores for far too long. It is imperative that the Congress now mandate a continuing, comprehensive program which will save them from the ravages of this really dread disease.