John Oliver Exposes How Congress Is Poisoning American Children

Lead poisoning and lead exposure to children is not a recent problem. "Last Week Tonight" reminds people how Sesame Street raised the issue nearly 20 years ago.

The Flint, Michigan, water crisis prompted national outrage only after the irreversible effects of lead exposure to children were exposed by a local pediatrician.

In a study released last September, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha found after the city switched to the Flint River for its drinking water, lead levels in the blood of Flint’s kids doubled.

And since the effects of lead exposure to children cannot be reversed later in life, an entire generation could suffer.

But it’s not just lead exposure through water pipes that poses serious health threats to children and it’s not just Flint where it has been happening, as John Oliver pointed out in the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight.”

The possibility of ingesting lead paint dust is perhaps more common in the U.S. than lead water poisoning.

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As per U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates, lead paint dust is present in 2,144,000 homes where children under the age of 6 live.

“Even low-level exposure can lead to irreversible damage, like lower IQs, antisocial behavior, and reduced attention span,” Oliver noted.

However, despite the grave health risks, the government appropriated only $110 million for lead removal this year — when, in fact, HUD estimated in 2000 that Congress would have to spend $16.6 billion per year for 10 years to eliminate lead paint in buildings and lead in water pipes.

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Oliver also showed how Sesame Street puppets, unlike GOP lawmakers, addressed the dangers of lead exposure to children way back in 1996.

So, in order to get Congress’ attention turned toward the problem, the host went back to the sets of the long-running children's television series and talked about lead poisoning  as you can see from the 14:25 mark in the video above.