April 11, 2019

Duckworth, Kildee, Peters & Speier Introduce Legislation to Protect Military Families from Lead Exposure

Bicameral legislation would improve testing and inspection for lead in drinking water and military homes


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), along with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) and Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14), today introduced legislation to protect military families from the threat of lead poisoning in their homes and schools. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of lead exposure for people of any age. Lead exposure can cause damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems.

“The brave men and women who serve in our military should not have to worry about whether they live in homes that put their families’ safety at risk and whether they’re sending their children to schools that have contaminated drinking water,” said Duckworth. “This is a public health crisis and a serious threat to our military readiness that demands our immediate attention.”

“There is no safe level of lead. Every family in America should be able to trust that their home and drinking water is free from lead,” Congressman Kildee said. “My hometown of Flint, Michigan knows all too well the consequences of lead in drinking water. By expanding lead testing in homes and schools, our legislation better protects families and children living on military bases. I am proud to join Senator Duckworth and Congresswoman Speier in introducing this important legislation.”

The Get the Lead out of Military Housing Act would:

  • Guarantee all children who are at risk of lead exposure are tested in compliance with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ best practices.
  • Require testing for lead based paint and lead in drinking water at schools operated by the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Prevent the military from discouraging testing for lead-based paint in homes for military families funded by the military. 
  • Allow third party testing for lead based paint in homes on military bases.
  • Ensure the military is following the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regulations for inspecting lead-based paint in military homes.

“As we saw in Flint, lead exposure can result in serious and long-term developmental and health challenges – especially in children. No one – especially servicemembers or their families – should be forced to live in conditions that pose risks to their health,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that will increase testing at military facilities for lead and help protect against the dangerous consequences of lead exposure.”

“The military’s response to lead contamination in base housing and schools is appalling. Lead can cause developmental damage in children. This is not how any family should be treated but it’s even more egregious given the sacrifices their families undertake. Congress must act now,” said Congresswoman Speier.

Duckworth has been a strong advocate of strengthening protections against lead poisoning and other toxins and she was a harsh critic of former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s failure to combat lead poisoning while he was in office, grilling him at committee hearings over his refusal to protect American children and families from contaminated water.

Duckworth and Kildee have previously introduced bipartisan legislation to protect families living in assisted housing from lead in drinking water with Senator Todd Young (R-IN) as well as the NO LEAD Act to protect clean drinking water by making lead testing reports more comprehensive and ensuring they are easily available to the public. Duckworth has also introduced legislation to protect children from lead-contaminated water with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and she has been critical of the Trump Administration’s inadequate efforts to eliminate the risk of childhood lead poisoning.