Lead Testing: King County Takes Steps in Exposure Screening

My Letter to the Editor, published in the November 28, 2016 Seattle Times:

“I’m writing regarding the editorial on testing for lead in schools [“Legislature should pay for water testing at every public school,” Opinion, Nov. 18]. This is an issue the King County Board of Health has focused on for some time. Public Health — Seattle & King County estimates that more than 8,000 children in King County may have elevated blood lead levels.

As a member of the Metropolitan King County Council’s Transportation, Environment and Economy Committee, I was pleased to get a new section on preventing lead exposure and increasing testing in children added to the county’s proposed comprehensive plan. I also secured $250,000 in the county budget for a program screening young children for presence of lead.

This fall, I sponsored a resolution by the County Board of Health, which was then adopted by the County Council. The resolution and motion encourage King County health-care providers to screen all children for lead at ages 12 months and 24 months, and urges Washington state to update the occupational-safety standards for lead to protect workers and their families.

As The Times points out in the editorial, the cost of testing water for lead has proved prohibitive for many school districts, so parents and children have no assurance their schools are safe. It is far more cost-effective to conduct testing and prevent exposure in the first place than to address the many health and behavioral effects resulting from exposure down the line.”

County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Seattle

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