Chairwoman Sherrill Holds Field Hearing in Bloomfield on Lead in Water

October 15, 2019
Press Release
Calls for increased federal funding, research dollars to address nationwide crisis

Bloomfield, NJ -- Today, House Science Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11) held a field hearing in Bloomfield, New Jersey, to discuss the effects of lead in drinking water and the challenges that local leaders face in addressing lead contamination. Chairwoman Sherrill’s subcommittee heard from officials in Essex County and experts from across the nation on lead in drinking water. Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee members Representatives Don Beyer (VA-08) and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10) attended the hearing in addition to Representative Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10).

“Lead in water is an invisible threat for our families, with indelible consequences,” said Chairwoman Sherrill. “We have aging water infrastructure in New Jersey and across the country that must be addressed to keep our children safe. Our witnesses today confirmed that this is an expensive, complicated issue that requires coordination from the local to the federal level. I was happy to hear from County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, Bloomfield Mayor Venezia, and Nutley Mayor Scarpelli. Our local officials are working incredibly hard to protect our communities and their testimony today provides further evidence of that. I am also grateful that Representatives Payne, Beyer, and Wexton were able to join this field hearing -- we will take our findings back to Washington to advocate for more federal infrastructure and research funding to combat this nationwide issue.”

“Today’s hearing was informative and instrumental,” said Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. “It was important for the public to hear what our local officials have been doing to solve this crisis and that they have been working on it before it became a major issue. We learned about the health problems caused by lead and how technology is being used to remove it in Newark’s water. I commend Congresswoman Sherrill for having such a timely hearing. This is an issue which has been and will continue to be a problem across the country.”

“Lead in water can be deadly, but it’s especially dangerous for our children – where it can significantly impair their brain health and development,” said Congresswoman Wexton. “We can’t take the safety of our drinking water for granted, as we’ve seen with recent instances of lead contamination in a number of Virginia schools. Today’s hearing affirms the need for the federal government to work with our partners in the public and private sectors, at every level, to bring new strategies and technologies to combat this national public health crisis. I thank Representative Sherrill for bringing greater attention to this important issue, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure all of our families have safe, clean drinking water.”

Lead was the most common material for water service lines in the United States prior to 1950. Although Congress banned the use of lead in plumbing materials in 1986, the EPA estimates 6.5-10 million lead service lines remain nationwide. Exposure is also attributed to lead goosenecks, brass fittings, faucets, and valves as well as galvanized pipes downstream from lead plumbing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children. Even low levels of lead have a severe effect on children, particularly under the age of six. Lead exposure can impact learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, hearing problems, and anemia.

The following individuals testified in front of Chairwoman Sherrill’s Subcommittee:

Panel I

  • The Honorable Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr., County Executive, Essex County, New Jersey
  • The Honorable Joseph Scarpelli, Mayor of Nutley, New Jersey
  • The Honorable Michael Venezia, Mayor of Bloomfield, New Jersey

Panel II

  • Dr. Diane Calello, Executive and Medical Director, New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Rutgers University
  • Dr. Marc Edwards, University Distinguished Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  • Mr. Michael Ramos, Chief Engineer, Chicago Public Schools; Inventor, the Noah Auto Flushing Device for Lead Mitigation
  • Dr. Eric Roy, Founder, Hydroviv

To read Chairwoman Sherrill’s opening statement, please click here. Video from the subcommittee hearing can be found here.

Rep. Sherrill presides over subcommittee hearing this morning

Rep. Sherrill presides over subcommittee hearing this morning