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Lead Poisoning Prevention Initiative Washington, D.C.

Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
                Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
              Lead Poisoning Prevention Initiative
                        Washington, D.C.
                         July 14, 1999

     I want to thank Secretary Cuomo for that introduction and I want to commend both Attorney General Reno and Housing Secretary Cuomo on today's announcement.
     Working together -- EPA, the Justice Department and HUD -- along with community leaders, health officials, real estate professionals and concerned parents like Maurci, we are going to fight make sure our homes are places were children are nurtured -- not poisoned.
     Lead is the single greatest environmental threat to children in America.
     Nearly one million kids under the age of six have elevated levels of lead in their bodies.  And although lead poses risks to all children, those living in inner cities are three times more likely to be stricken.
     Lead poisoning is associated with serious problems, including developmental, neurological and cognitive disorders.
     And the greatest tragedy is that most of these cases are preventable. The answer, in large part, is taking the simple step of ensuring that families know about potential hazards from lead contamination in the apartments they may rent or the homes they may buy.
     That is why this Administration has championed rules written by EPA and HUD that require landlords and sellers whose buildings were constructed before 1978 -- that's about 64 million units -- to notify tenants and buyers of known lead contamination in those buildings and give them a copy of this brochure that tells parents how they can protect their kids from lead.
     Today's enforcement action by the Clinton Administration sends a strong signal that those who would avoid their legal responsibilities will be held accountable.
     And could it be any simpler?
     All they have to do is hand these out. That's all!
     Since this rule went into effect, millions of these forms and brochures have been given out by sellers and landlords. Those people realized that this is hardly a burden. They know what's at stake -- the health and safety of a new generation of Americans.
     This simple right to know can keep our kids on the road to health.
     More than 25 years ago, EPA took a major step to reduce childhood lead poisoning by phasing out lead in gasoline. And we must continue making progress on this front because we know that -- like cars -- children run better unleaded.
     And now I'd like to introduce Washington Mayor Anthony Williams who on this issue -- and so many others -- is working hard to make our nation's Capital a safe and healthy place for our families to live.