Children’s Law Center senior supervising attorney Kathy Zeisel testified before the DC Council in support of B20-569, the Air Pollution Disclosure and Reduction Act. The legislation would address housing conditions that affect children’s health, including mold. Read a summary below or review the full testimony as submitted to the Council.
Many of Children’s Law Center’s clients have asthma or other respiratory problems and live in homes with terrible housing conditions that aggravate these health concerns. In the last fiscal year, approximately one-quarter of the referrals from Children’s National clinics to Children’s Law Center were for housing conditions cases. Many of the families we work with live in housing with a history of floods and/or other water leakage that has never been properly repaired, and as a result, there is substantial mold. The legislation addresses some of the current gaps in the law, but Children’s Law Center and other organizations propose amendments to strengthen it, including requirements to conduct inspections, to license inspectors and mold remediators, and to remediate where substantial mold is found. The proposal follows the pattern set by the District’s lead laws.
Asthma rates are on the rise in DC, especially among black children. And asthma is particularly prevalent in the city’s poor neighborhoods, with 16.1% of Ward 8 residents diagnosed with asthma. These children and adults frequently visit hospital emergency rooms for asthma treatments, contributing to growing direct and indirect health costs. The research is clear that mold can trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory conditions. Yet, DC does not have any legal protections against mold and city agencies do not assist tenants who have complaints about serious mold.