Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (June 10, 1999) -- To inform Marylanders about the number one preventable environmental health threat to children, Governor Parris N. Glendening has proclaimed Monday, June 14 to Sunday, June 20, as Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Maryland.

This year's theme is "Children Run Better Unleaded: Test Your Child, Check Your Home." Screening with a blood test for lead is an important way to find out if a child is exposed or poisoned.

"Each year, many of our children are unnecessarily exposed to the potential hazards of lead," said Governor Glendening. "Symptoms don't often appear until the poisoning is very severe and even low lead levels in the blood can affect a child's ability to learn. The best weapon that we have to
combat this threat is public awareness."

Lead poisoning is caused primarily by deteriorating lead-based paint, which produces chips and dust. Children become lead poisoned when they ingest or inhale the chips and dust through  normal hand-to-mouth activities. Adults and pets also are susceptible.

"Regrettably, for many parents, the issue of lead poisoning does not hit home until their own child is affected," said Maryland Secretary of the Environment Jane T. Nishida. "Every family can play an active role in preventing childhood lead poisoning by having their children's blood tested, and
checking their homes for deteriorating paint."

"Lead poisoning adversely affects the optimal health and well-being of our children, often resulting in unnecessary physical, emotional, and intellectual deficits," added Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Secretary Dr. Georges Benjamin.

Rental property owners who comply with Maryland's Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing law contribute significantly to the prevention of childhood lead poisoning. Compliance means that the property is registered with MDE, tenants are provided an educational notice, and paint maintenance is performed before new tenants move in. Owners who are in compliance with the law are eligible for a cap on their liability for lead poisoning. Enforcement under the provisions of this law has resulted in more
than 100 penalty assessments to date.