Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (February 15, 2005) -- Members of the Ehrlich Administration today held a press conference in Baltimore to clarify the state's Lead Poisoning Prevention programs and their role in Baltimore City and budgetary concerns. The members included Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick, Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Secretary Victor L. Hoskins, Dr. Maureen C. Edwards, medical director of the Center for Maternal & Child Health at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Special Secretary for the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families M. Teresa Garland.

The Maryland State lead law, recognized as a national model, has proven very effective at preventing lead poisoning in Baltimore City and statewide. The State lead law, originally passed in 1994, has been refined several times by the General Assembly over the past 10 years.

The Governor’s FY 2006 budget recommends a $375,000 decrease to Baltimore City for lead law enforcement and an increase of $147,000 in MDE’s enforcement budget for an additional 3 State inspectors.

“Governor Ehrlich’s initiative (HB251 and SB212) further strengthens the lead law to help reach the goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning by 2010 while maintaining safe and affordable housing in Baltimore City and statewide,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “By transferring the responsibility of lead enforcement to the state, Baltimore City will receive more effective enforcement at a lower cost to the state. The Department of the Environment and state law are responsible for most of the lead risk reduction activities in Baltimore City. There will be no reduction in enforcement services in Baltimore City through the lead program.”

"In Baltimore City the Department of Housing and Community Development has directed $10.3 million in State general funds for lead abatement," said DHCD Secretary Victor L. Hoskins. "We are dedicated to the Governor's mission to end lead paint poisoning and mindful of the steps that need to be taken across the State."

The 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. The MDE also runs the statewide lead rental registry, conducts enforcement actions and coordinates with state and local agencies on lead poisoning prevention measures.

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.