BALTIMORE (June 4, 2004) – State and local officials renewed their pledge to battle the dangers of lead as Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. proclaimed June 5-12 as Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week in Maryland.
Sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Lead Poisoning Prevention Partnership 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.
“Lead poisoning is preventable, and we have an obligation to do just that – prevent lead poisoning,” Governor Ehrlich said. “We have made great progress toward eliminating this threat to children’s health, but we must do even more.”
Lead poisoning 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.
“This remains a critical environmental challenge for children,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “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 132,743 rental units in Maryland are listed as lead free. Statewide another 91,290 rental units have received certificates stating that they meet basic requirements for properly managing lead paint under Maryland’s lead law. Renters should ask the real estate agent or landlord about lead safety when looking for a new residence and ask for a lead inspection certificate before renting a home built before 1950.
Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is proud to report that:
- In the last year, more than 5,000 dwelling units have been required to meet risk reduction treatment standards through enforcement actions;
- 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 2,297 in 2002;
- Very few children with blood lead levels above the action level got that exposure while living in registered, treated units.
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.
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 kindergarten, pre-K or lst grade in Sept 2004 and who live in at-risk areas must have evidence of blood lead testing as part of entering school.
Rental property owners can help prevent lead poisoning by meeting the requirements under the state's Reduction of Lead Risk in Housing Law. Rental properties built before 1950 must comply with the state's requirements for registration, inspection and tenant education.
A complete list of Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week events and tips can be found on MDE’s ‘Lead Line’ at: www.mde.state.md.us/health/lead, or on the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning’s website at: www.leadsafe.org. These websites also include information on MDE's lead law for property owners, tenants, and parents.
The statewide kickoff will be held at the Rolling Terrace School, 705 Bayfield Street, Takoma Park, Maryland from 11:00am to 2:00pm on June 5, 2004. The Baltimore City kickoff will be held at the War Memorial Plaza, 101 North Gay St., beginning at 10:00am on June 7, 2004.
For more information on childhood lead poisoning and its prevention call (800) 776-2706 or (800) 370-LEAD (5323).