LoBiondo Secures Kiddie Kollege-Inspired Amendment to Annual Spending Bill
Days after introducing legislation inspired by the incident last summer at the Kiddie Kollege day care facility in Franklin Township, U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) has won approval of his amendment modeled after H.R. 2813, the "Children's Mercury Exposure Act of 2007," to the Fiscal Year 2008 House Interior & the Environment Appropriations bill. LoBiondo was joined by fellow New Jersey Representative Rob Andrews (NJ-01) in introducing the original legislation which was is in direct response to the mercury contamination of children attending the former Kiddie Kollege day care. LoBiondo's amendment was accepted by voice vote on the House floor last night.
"I applaud my colleagues for recognizing the need to ensure parents and children in our districts get the answers and treatment they deserve. As the Kiddie Kollege incident reminds us that children can and unfortunately will be exposed to mercury from contaminated industrial sites, my amendment is a critical first step in directing research and resources to this real problem," said LoBiondo. "I will continue to push for full implementation of the Children's Mercury Exposure Act of 2007' to ensure that children and parents have knowledge about the risks posed by this exposure; that the scope of this problem is determined; and that the appropriate level of testing and care is provided."
In late July 2006, it was revealed that Kiddie Kollege was built upon on a site that was previously used by a thermometer manufacturer with a history of mercury contamination and had not been properly cleaned up. While initial testing of the children and staff determined there was mercury exposure, long-term testing was not authorized. In the subsequent weeks, LoBiondo contacted both the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to request expanded testing of the homes of children and staff at Kiddie Kollege. Over the past year, LoBiondo has continued to work with the CDC, the EPA, state agencies, local elected officials and his Congressional colleagues to craft legislation that would meet the needs and requests of families whose children were exposed to mercury at Kiddie Kollege.
Specifically, LoBiondo's amendment to the FY 2008 House Interior & the Environment Appropriations bill would direct funding included in the annual spending bill for initial and long-term testing of children exposed to mercury from mercury-contaminated industrial sites. LoBiondo's amendment directs $1 million for this testing in FY 2008 under the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which is the nation's public health agency for chemical safety.
Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can affect the nervous system, lungs, brain, and kidneys. According to EPA, mercury is present at a number of contaminated industrial sites across the United States. Due to their unique behaviors, such as soil ingestion from normal hand-to mouth contact, children have a particular risk of exposure from these mercury contaminated industrial sites. ATSDR has determined this risk has emerged as an important public health issue.
The House FY 2008 Interior & the Environment Appropriations bill is expected to be approved by the full House today.