Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (June 1, 2003) – State and local officials renew their pledge to battle the dangers of lead as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. proclaims June 2-9 as Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Maryland.

Sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Lead Poisoning Prevention Partnership (Baltimore City, local governments, Department of Housing and Community Development, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is comprised of week-long activities across the state that highlight what parents and property owners can do to prevent lead poisoning.

“All citizens share the responsibility to safeguard Maryland's children from lead poisoning,” Gov. Ehrlich said. “Maryland's children deserve the opportunity to grow and develop in a lead-free environment.”

The effects of lead poisoning, a preventable disease, may result in poor school performance, inability to read, aggressive behavior, hearing loss or even mental retardation. By 2000, nearly one million U.S. children under the age of six had blood lead levels greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter, which is considered to be an elevated level by the Centers for Disease Control.

“Lead poisoning remains Maryland’s most critical environmental challenge for children,” said Acting MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Maryland is making significant progress toward eliminating childhood lead poisoning. Despite this progress, we must not let our guard down. The support and hard work from our partnerships with local government and the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning are invaluable in our relentless quest to end lead poisoning of our children in Maryland.”

The theme of this year’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is “Investigate…When You Rent or Renovate.” The simple message urges parents, renters and property owners to “check for lead” before selecting a home to rent or buy, especially if the property was built before 1950. Dwellings constructed before 1950 and through 1978 are more likely to contain lead paint.

There are lead safe homes on the market. Approximately 118,861 rental units in Maryland are listed as lead free. Statewide another 77,499 rental units have received certificates stating that they meet basic requirements for properly managing lead paint.

MDE recommends that prospective tenants take certain steps when looking for a new place to live. Ask the realtor or landlord about lead safety when looking for a new residence. And be sure to ask for a lead inspection certificate before renting a home built before 1950.

MDE also suggests that when planning renovations or other home improvement projects, think about lead before you start. Many common older work methods actually create lead hazards. Do not dry sand, dry scrape or burn old paint. Learn more about lead safe methods before starting the project. Make sure young children are out of the work area and that the area is cleaned everyday before children return.

Parents can help by learning the sources of lead poisoning, and by getting their children tested. This is especially important for young children, who are at greatest risk from exposure to lead dust through normal hand-to-mouth behavior. Health care providers can help by assuring that children aged one and two years receive the appropriate screening for lead poisoning. Blood lead testing is now required at age one and two years for all children living in “at risk” areas statewide, living in Baltimore City, or receiving services through Medicaid. Children newly entering pre-K, kindergarten, or first grade in September 2003, and who live in at-risk areas must have evidence of blood lead testing as part of entering school.

Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is proud to report that:

  • more than 4,200 dwelling units have been required to meet risk reduction treatment standards;
  • blood lead levels are coming down statewide, even in the areas of highest risk such as Baltimore City, parts of the Eastern shore and Western Maryland;
  • the number of children with elevated blood lead levels has dropped from 11,585 in 1995 to 2,841 in 2001;
  • very few children with blood lead levels above the action level were exposed to lead risks while living in registered, treated units.

MDE is the principal state agency charged with lead paint poisoning prevention. Throughout the year, MDE’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program assists local health departments with case management of lead poisoned children, and promotes locally based outreach. MDE also runs the statewide lead rental registry, conducts enforcement actions and coordinates with state and local agencies on lead poisoning prevention measures.

A complete list of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week events and tips can be found on MDE’s ‘Lead Line’ at:, or on the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning’s website at: For more information on childhood lead poisoning and its prevention, call (800) 776-2706 or (800) 370-LEAD (5323).