1,000 Days is pleased to see the Biden-Harris Administration’s proposal to ensure access to clean, safe drinking water as announced in the American Jobs Plan this week. The plan invests $111 billion to improve water infrastructure, including eliminating 100% of lead pipes and service lines and monitoring and remediating PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in our drinking water systems.
Families in the 1,000-day window are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of unsafe drinking water. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children, but an estimated six to 10 million homes across the country still receive drinking water through lead pipes and service lines. Lead exposure can cause serious, permanent damage to children’s developing brains and cause learning, behavior, and hearing problems. Infants and young children are especially likely to be exposed to lead – and the risk of lead poisoning falls disproportionately on children of color. In fact, Black children are nearly three times as likely as white children to have elevated blood-lead levels.
Additionally, PFAS are harmful to both pregnant women and their developing babies. Prenatal exposure to these widely used industrial chemicals can disrupt metabolism and immunity, which may cause lasting effects on both mom and baby – from a higher risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia during pregnancy to a child’s increased risk of obesity and infections.
No family should have to worry about harmful exposures through their drinking water. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a basic but critical part of a healthy first 1,000 days – whether it’s as a source of hydration during pregnancy and breastfeeding, or as a source of nourishment for babies who consume infant formula.
The Biden-Harris Administration’s investment is a critical step to ensuring mothers and babies are safe and healthy during and after the 1,000-day window. But, we know that the needs of mothers, babies, and families in the United States go far beyond what is included in the American Jobs Plan. At 1,000 Days, we look forward to the next portion of the Administration’s infrastructure package: the American Families Plan. A full recovery cannot occur without a permanent paid leave program and paid sick days, continued investments in WIC, further access to postpartum health care via Medicaid, and an extension of the increased Child Tax Credit.