Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (October 23, 2002) – Marking National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) announced today that statewide blood lead test results in Maryland have shown a steady decrease in the number of children with blood lead levels above Center for Disease Control’s "level of concern" -- from 16.5% (9,884) of children tested statewide in 1996 to 3.7% (2,841) in 2001. This progress is attributed to a combination of risk reduction treatments, private lead inspections, outreach efforts, and aggressive enforcement.

In three weeks, MDE will send out its annual Lead Rental Registration Renewal package to 23,000 registered rental property owners. This gives property owners updates on what they need to do to stay in compliance. It includes resources on available grants or loan funds, and contacts for additional information and assistance.

“Owners that aren’t in compliance need to get with the program,” said MDE Secretary Richard F. Pecora, noting that MDE has been pursuing enforcement actions on property owners.

Since January, MDE has issued more than 100 orders through the Attorney General’s Office requiring owners to bring their properties into compliance with the Lead Law. There are more than 250 additional orders in process. MDE has also entered into more than 50 Consent Agreements, in which owner agree to fix not just one unit, but 100% of their units. This means MDE is now able to work with owners to bring multiple properties into compliance after an initial complaint about a single unit.

More than 70,000 rental units have been inspected for compliance with the State’s Lead Risk Reduction Standard since 1996. This means 70,000 rental units that have owners working to prevent lead poisoning; 70,000 rental units getting basic treatments and inspections BEFORE a child gets poisoned.

“Reducing exposure before children get poisoned is really the core of lead poisoning prevention,” said Secretary Pecora. “MDE and our state, local, and community partners such as the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, have been working hard to reduce lead poisoning. We’re making good progress, but continued results depend on property owners returning their registration renewals on time and continuing risk reduction treatments before new tenants move in. This should also serve as notice to those owners of rental properties built before 1950 who have not yet registered or treated their properties to come into compliance.”

MDE’s Lead Poisoning Prevention web page provides information for property owners on how to do risk reduction treatments and obtain registration forms. Parents can find information about blood-lead testing, health effects and tenant rights. The web page also includes lists of certified contractors and inspectors, and information on how to become a certified inspector.