To the editor:
Lead poisoning has been determined to cause cognitive deficits leading to demonstrable lifetime under-achievement, under-employment and decreased earning capacity. A problem just in Flint, Michigan you say? Not so. Our own state of New Hampshire has a dismal record of lead poisoning prevention.
Presently, only Medicaid families in New Hampshire have to get their kids tested for lead as the Federal Government requires it for all beneficiaries, regardless of state law. Of those Medicaid kids in New Hampshire, four in 10 have higher than acceptable levels of lead. By that sample, it is safe to assume it is also too high in the rest of the kids in the state who are not being tested, and highest in older urban communities replete with lead-paint, like Berlin. Studies show that it is highest in units that have been rehabilitated without safeguards, which creates lead dust that gets into everything without any visible sign.
N.H. Senate Bill 247, filed this year in Concord, would have provided lead testing of all 1- and 2-year-olds, drinking water testing in all schools and day care facilities, and $6 million in remediation funds over two years for landlords needing to comply with EPA standards.
A no-brainer you say? Well, apparently not for our Republican-controlled state Legislature. After passing both houses, this bill got “retained” by the Republican-led Finance Committee on which Berlin’s sole Republican representative sits. It lies dormant largely because New Hampshire Republicans keep cutting this state’s already low business taxes, depleting government coffers of funds available for critical public health emergencies like the opioid crisis, and like this one. They appear to believe that businesses are stupid enough to hire a bunch of underperforming lead-poisoned employees just to save a buck on taxes. If left to the present course of lead exposure, I suppose, someday that will indeed be the case. But its not too late to turn it around if we take action now.
Rather than sit there while a generation of lead-poisoned youth become cognitively deficient adults, come join us at the Democrats’ fund-raising event, the Truman Dinner, at 5 p.m. on Nov. 11, at the White Mountain Chalet to meet some of the future leaders of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire who intend to reverse this travesty.
Berlin Democratic Committee