Recently, the Health Impact Project – a partnership between the Robert Johnson Wood Foundation and Pew Charitable Trusts – released a cost-benefit analysis of policies aimed to reduce childhood lead poisoning. Led by a team of researchers across various fields, the report zones in on ten policies that could earn communities billions in future gains by investing in their citizens.
Some of the key policies recommended by the Health Impact Project include:
- Reduce lead in drinking water in homes built before 1986 and other places children frequent.
- Increase enforcement of the federal renovation, repair, and painting rule.
- Remove lead paint hazards from low-income housing built before 1960 and other places children spend time.
- Fill gaps in research to better target state and local prevention and response efforts.
- Ensure access to developmental and neurological assessments and appropriate programs for children with elevated blood lead levels.
The policies follow a prevention, reduction and remediation plan to help affected children and stop new cases of lead poisoning in their tracks. Lead poisoning is associated with blood, brain, skeletal and muscular impairment. In children, chronic lead exposure can have lasting effects that seriously undermine their adult well-being.
Health Impact Project estimated that implementing these policies into state-level and federal governments could yield $84 billion in potential savings over a lifetime. These projected earnings come from savings made in healthcare, education, federal and state aid, and the criminal justice system. For example, ensuring all contractors comply with the Lead Safe renovation rule could protect over 200,000 children born in 2018 and save $4.5 billion in healthcare and criminal justice costs – or about three dollars per every dollar spent enforcing the rule.
Although the policy initiatives seem lofty, none of them are presented without precedent. The report includes case studies from hundreds of municipalities with success in implementing their own lead safe laws.