Reducing Toxic Exposures

Many chemicals and materials that were once regularly used in consumer products and industrial processes are now understood to be harmful to human health, such as lead in house paint, pipes, and gasoline or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in non-stick frying pans, cosmetics, and firefighting foam. These hazardous substances and materials are now ubiquitous in our environment and commonly found in our air, water, food, and soil – and in our bodies. Many of these substances and materials do not break down and persist in the environment. Often communities that are underserved and under-resourced are disproportionately exposed to and affected by these hazards due to problematic policies and practices and a lack of resources to address these hazards.

We are helping connect communities and public officials to information, strategies, and solutions. We are also creating new tools and resources to help boost local capacity to address these hazards.

Through our partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Center for Scientific Evidence in Public Issues we are helping local and state leaders understand the latest science as they evaluate risks and explore ways to address PFAS in their communities. Through a series of webinars, roundtables, and dialogues we delivered the latest in scientific research, including how PFAS chemicals move through the environment, health effects of PFAS, technologies to remove PFAS from contaminated media, and risk communications strategies to improve public safety.

We are also building local capacity to reduce exposure to lead hazards. In 2016, we partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund, Children’s Environmental Health Network, the American Water Works Association, Clean Water Action, and others to convene the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative, which seeks to accelerate full removal of the lead pipes providing drinking water to millions of American homes. The focus of the Collaborative is to encourage communities around the country to develop and begin implementing plans for full replacement of lead service lines.

We are also partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop the Lead-Free Communities (LFC) Initiative, which is building a national movement to eliminate lead exposure, and its associated negative health effects, in communities across the United States. The LFC Initiative offers a unique, comprehensive, multi-sector approach for encouraging and supporting communities to collaboratively develop and implement a customized plan to eliminate exposures to lead hazards, with a strong focus on health equity and environmental justice. The LFC Initiative is building a national learning and support network of communities working on lead elimination, which will simultaneously support local progress and serve as a catalyst for progress on a larger scale.

New Lead Service Line Replacement Guide for Communities

The Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative recently released a step-by-step guide communities can use to help consider and account for issues of equity when developing LSL replacement programs.

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