The Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Action Plan) puts forth several objectives aimed at combating lead exposure, especially for vulnerable populations such as children in low socio-economic areas. The report is broken up into four goals to prioritize efforts and monitor progress in reducing lead-related harms among children. The four goals included in the Action Plan are to:
- Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead Sources
- Identify Lead-Exposed Children and Improve Their Health Outcomes
- Communicate More Effectively with Stakeholders
- Support and Conduct Critical Research to Inform Efforts to Reduce Lead Exposures and Related Health Risks
Lead is a neurotoxin associated with a variety of negative health outcomes. According to the World Health Organization, lead is particularly harmful to young children. There is no safe level of exposure, and lead poisoning can result in reduced IQ, behavioral changes, anemia, hypertension, renal impairment, immunotoxicity, and toxicity to reproductive organs.
To address lead exposure in the United States, goal two of the Action Plan proposes improved surveillance of blood lead levels (BLLs) and facilitated follow-up BLL testing of children identified as exposed. Goal 2.3, “Facilitate Screening for Developmental Delays in Children Identified as Lead-Exposed,” encourages state, tribal, and local officials to identify exposed children and assess their developmental progress over time, as lead exposure is known to greatly elevate the risk of delays in development. However, it is unclear how efficacious these services will be or what the end goal is, as there is no known cure or reversal of the effects of lead toxicity.
The plan has been criticized as a “significant step backwards” by health justice scholars, as it has no funding sources and does not take concrete steps to implement its purported goals.