While community education and outreach by lead poisoning prevention advocates is an important aspect of reducing lead poisoning in a community, the most effective primary prevention measures for lead poisoning require some type of government action. If the key government decision-makers are not politically motivated to adopt primary prevention measures, a community will not be able to best protect its children from lead poisoning. (Read about how Oakland has been slow to respond to lead poisoning challenges.)
What’s the solution?
Media can play an important role in bringing attention to the scope of the lead poisoning problem in the community by sharing moving stories about the real impact lead poisoning has on families. For example, an investigative series by the Philadelphia Inquirer was an important factor in Philadelphia stepping up its efforts to address lead poisoning.
Building a bipartisan coalition to address lead poisoning locally is an important tool in building political will to take action on lead poisoning locally. If the coalition contains members that represent a wide range of voters across the political spectrum, politicians may find that not supporting lead poisoning prevention recommendations put forth by the coalition would be politically unpopular.
Politicians may have little political will because they do not understand the scope or the consequences of a local lead poisoning crisis. Communities with mandatory lead testing often have better information about the scope of the problem. This can be particularly important if your state does not require remedial action when children are found with elevated blood lead levels or if your state’s definition of elevated blood lead level is higher than the CDC reference level. In some cases, like Dayton, Ohio, slow local response to lead poisoning issues can be addressed through state-wide action.