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Washington City Paper: Gas Leaks, Mold, and Lead Poisoning Top Concerns at DOEE Hearing

January 26, 2022

Photo of a home with mold hazards.

At Children’s Law Center, we know that poor housing conditions can pose a serious risk to a child’s health, and no amount of lead exposure is safe for a child. Our recent performance oversight testimony on the Department of Energy and the Environment (DOEE) emphasized the important progress the agency has made in fighting mold and lead-based paint hazards — but also stressed that more action is needed. Washington City Paper’s Ambar Castillo covered the hearing and noted our call for the DC Council to advance the Lead Hazard Prevention & Elimination Act, increase DOEE funding for more mold inspectors and more:

Gas leaks, mold, and lead poisoning were among the most pressing concerns during yesterday’s oversight hearing in the Committee on Transportation and the Environment.

DOEE has had a hand in making D.C. mold remediation possible, closing loopholes that otherwise allow landlords to “skirt the intent of the law” and paint over any mold, Zeisel explained. But the new Department of Buildings, one of two agencies that will be created when DCRA is split up, should also support residents by ensuring mold is part of the housing code and enforce any issues as violations, she added.

Lead is another tricky environmental concern. Zeisel called for inspectors to also be trained in lead inspection. While the federal infrastructure bill and the American Rescue Plan have funds allocated to completely remove lead pipes by 2030, the city says the funds fall short of what’s needed.