Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (June 12, 2008) – The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) today released the annual statewide Childhood Lead Registry surveillance statistics. Data shows that during calendar year 2007, more children were tested and the percentage of children with an elevated blood lead level had decreased.

“Reducing exposure to prevent poisoning is the foundation of lead poison prevention programs,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “Working with state, local, and community partners, including the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, we are making good progress.”

“Continued progress depends on property owners returning registration renewals on time and performing required risk reduction treatments before new tenants move in,” stated MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Owners of rental properties built before 1950 who have not yet registered or performed required risk reduction treatments to their properties must come into compliance.”

The Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Josh Sharfstein said, “MDE's new online database, which will make public information about whether pre-1950 rental properties have been inspected and deemed safe, will be an important tool for prospective renters".

"The release of the 2007 numbers and the improved on-line access to the lead registration and compliance database show the continued progress being made in our mutual mission to end lead poisoning and create sustainable lead safe housing,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. “While much work remains, these efforts show that when resources and efforts are well directed, we can improve the future outcomes and quality of life for our children and our communities."

The following are key statistics from the annual Childhood Lead Registry survey from 2007:

  • Children tested: Statewide, 105,708 children under 6 years of age were tested, which is an increase over the 2006 figure of 102,974. In Baltimore City, 17,670 children were tested, a slight decrease from 18,363 in 2006.
  • Elevated blood lead level (EBL level): 892 children (or 0.8 percent) had an elevated blood lead level. This is significantly lower than the 1.2 percent in 2006. In Baltimore City, the EBL was 3.5 percent, which is down from 4.6 percent in 2006. By State law, 10 micrograms per deciliter is considered an EBL level.
  • Lead is one of the greatest and most widespread environmental hazards for children in the State of Maryland. The effects of lead poisoning, a preventable disease, may result in poor school performance, inability to read, aggressive behavior, hearing loss, or even mental disabilities. Children are at greatest risk from birth to age six while their neurological systems are developing. MDE’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program serves as the coordinating agency of statewide efforts to eliminate childhood lead poisoning.

2007 Lead Survey Statistics

Among other data, the annual Childhood Lead Registry survey compiles all blood lead tests done on Maryland children 0-18 years of age, and provides blood lead test results to local health departments as needed for case management and planning. MDE has compiled this comprehensive assessment on statewide childhood blood lead screening since 1995. Maryland’s lead poisoning prevention goal is for no child to have an elevated blood lead level by the end of year 2010.

Lead paint dust from deteriorated lead paint or from renovation is the major source of exposure for children in Maryland. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2004 American Community Survey there are more than 449,000 residential houses built before 1950 (95 percent likely to contain lead paint) and 972,000 houses built between 1950-1979 (75 percent likely to have lead paint).

Water, air, and soil, may provide low-level, “background” exposure, but rarely cause childhood lead poisoning. Imported products, parental occupations, hobbies, and imported traditional medicines occasionally cause lead exposure among children.

Online Database of Rental Properties

MDE also is announcing its online database to make information about rental properties available to the public. In the first version of this database, users are able to search a property tax number or address to determine if that property is registered and has a current certificate on file with MDE. In addition, users, for example those who might be looking for an apartment, can enter limited information, such as a street name, a city, a postal code, or some combination, to create a list of properties that are registered and have a current certificate.

Currently, the database contains over 13,400 records of properties. However, at this time, not all certificates are available on-line. MDE’s Lead Rental Registry staff will be updating the database regularly and expect the number of available records to grow as matches between certificates and property units are enhanced.

For more information about the Childhood Lead Registry or to find a rental property with a certificate, go to or call 410-537-3847.