Revisiting a Proposed Ban on Lead in Products, Part 2
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THE AIHA BOARD RESPONDS to a letter from Frank S. Rosenthal, Bruce P. Lanphear, and Perry Gottesfeld regarding a request for the Board to sign on to a “Call for Action for Global Control of Lead Exposure to Eliminate Lead Poisoning” published by the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology (ISEE): At its January 2017 meeting, the Board at the request of the Social Concerns Committee reviewed again the ISEE Call for Action supporting “global control of lead exposure to eliminate lead poisoning.” This issue had been reviewed and deliberated by the AIHA Board in January 2016 with a position published in the November 2016 Synergist.
At its most recent meeting, the Board maintained the same position taken in 2016, which is not to endorse the ISEE Call for Action for governments to ban the manufacture, import, and export of lead-containing fuels, paints, plumbing fixtures, and plastics. Calling for a ban on lead or any other hazardous substance bears careful consideration beyond the health and safety hazards. There are industrial, economic, environmental, political, and social considerations that government agencies need to weigh when making these decisions. As an association, we do not have the bandwidth to fully examine these other issues. Supporting a government ban on specific applications of a particular substance can potentially place the association and our membership into conflicts of interest (given the wide membership diversity among government, private sector, research and academia). Furthermore, it can lead to unintended consequences when developing future positions on draft legislation or consensus guidance documents.
The AIHA Board, however, does support the other various provisions stated in the letter, encouraging governments and other organizations to:
  • promote replacement of lead-containing fuels, paints, plumbing fixtures, plastics, and other commercially available products
  • vigorously explore replacements for lead content, wherever possible in other consumer and commercial products
  • implement, to the greatest extent feasible, effective procedures to reduce occupational exposure to lead and its compounds, especially in mining, manufacturing, and construction
  • implement, to the greatest extent feasible, effective procedures to reduce emissions from smelters and lead battery manufacturing and recycling facilities
  • implement regulations for safely recycling used batteries containing lead and for preventing the illegal dumping of lead-containing materials and products
  • implement, to the greatest extent feasible, programs to identify and remediate lead contaminated public and residential areas, and surveillance programs to identify heavily exposed individuals, populations, new sources of lead exposure, and trends in lead exposure
  • investigate and reduce lead exposures from contamination of food and from hazardous waste sites
  • increase the training of health professionals in the identification and prevention of lead poisoning
In addition, the AIHA Board supports the ISEE call for:
  1. the governments of countries with high quality blood analytical capacity to provide assistance (expertise, material, resources and training) to other countries in developing this capacity
  2. the elimination of lead poisoning to be included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with indicators and targets set accordingly
  3. professional organizations to support the efforts of international organizations working for lead poisoning prevention
AIHA is a membership-based professional association with a mission to protect worker and community health using knowledge based on strong scientific principles. Emphasizing use of the best control method to reduce or eliminate potential exposure can be applied universally. AIHA can communicate with ISEE of our support to these various provisions, other than the call for a government ban, and provide our technical expertise if requested.

Editor's note: Read the letter from Frank S. Rosenthal, Bruce P. Lanphear, and Perry Gottesfeld on the previous page of this issue.