Although lead paint was banned by federal law in 1978, it continues to poison children living in homes built before that time. The lifelong effects of childhood exposure to even small amounts of lead are well established by medical research. Federal and state laws have reduced rates of lead poisoning significantly in the past three decades. However, pockets of high rates of lead poisoning remain, primarily in low-income urban neighborhoods with older housing stock. Recently, several municipalities have passed local lead laws to reduce lead hazards in high-risk areas.
There has been no systematic attempt to compare the design and effectiveness of these local policies. To address this gap, the researchers conducted comparative case studies of eight innovative lead laws promulgated since 2000. The laws used a wide variety of legal structures and tools, although certain elements were common. The impact of the policies was intertwined with local housing, economic, and legal environments. While data do not yet exist to systematically evaluate the impact of these laws on lead poisoning rates, the analysis suggests that local laws hold great promise for reducing lead hazards in children's homes.