Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my colleagues to support the Children's Health Task Force Act. As children grow and develop, they are especially vulnerable to environmental health hazards such as air pollution, hazardous chemicals, and lead.
The number of children at risk for lead poisoning alone remains unacceptably high. Today there are 442,000 children with elevated blood levels, yet Congress continues to drastically cut funding for lead poisoning prevention programs.
There is simply no safe level of lead exposure for children. Research has shown that lead is damaging to the developing brains of young children and can have harmful long-term effects on behavior and IQ. I believe it is reprehensible to allow this kind of damage to happen to children. This quiet tragedy is entirely preventable, and it is our responsibility to protect our children and make lead poisoning a thing of the past.
In 1997, former President Clinton established by Executive Order an inter-agency task force to address high priority risks to children's health. Former President George W. Bush further amended the Executive Order to extend the work of this task force an additional few years. Since its establishment, the Task Force has successfully developed strategies and action plans for addressing asthma, unintentional injuries, lead poisoning, childhood cancer, and school environments.
The Children's Health Task Force Act would simply codify the Task Force by an act of Congress and charge it with recommending and coordinating Federal strategies to address environmental health and safety risks for children in the United States.
I am pleased the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Center for Healthy Housing, and Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital have endorsed this important bill.
Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in supporting the Children's Health Task Force Act. We must ensure that our children grow up in a safe and healthy environment.