The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes nearly $55 billion for programs that ensure every American has access to clean water, the single largest investment in water quality in U.S. history. In particular, the law sets aside $15 billion to remove lead pipes that deliver water to homes and other buildings throughout the country. Poor water quality, whether caused by lead pipes or other factors, is a significant public health risk that also imposes far-reaching economic costs on both individuals and broader society.
Exposure to lead is especially harmful to young children because lead poisoning harms their health and well-being in ways that can stunt their mental and physical development. These serious health effects can persist into adult life where they lead to decreased earnings, poorer health outcomes and lower educational attainment. Ultimately, these direct and indirect costs of lead poisoning are borne by society as a whole.
Black Americans are often more likely to live in communities with lead pipes, given well-documented patterns of residential segregation and a failure to fund lead-mitigation efforts in communities of color. The bipartisan infrastructure law commits substantial funds to remove lead pipes from American homes and help address this long-running public health crisis that exacerbates racial and economic inequality.
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