BALTIMORE, MD (September 30, 2005) – Property owners and tenants of older rental housing should be aware of changes to Maryland's lead poisoning prevention laws that take effect tomorrow, Oct. 1. In addition, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reminds citizens that the state marks the 18th Annual Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week later this month.
"The goal of this legislation is to build upon the successes that Maryland's lead program has already achieved," said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. "We know why lead poisoning occurs and we know the solution. This legislation will help us meet Governor Ehrlich's goal to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Maryland by 2010."
- Lowers the elevated blood lead level to 10 micrograms per deciliter, which triggers a rental property owner to reduce the risk of lead poisoning;
- Allows penalties to be assessed immediately once a notice of violation has been issued to a property owner;
- Makes it illegal for property owners to utilize relatives, employees, or entities related to the property owner to conduct lead dust testing or other compliance inspections;
- Clarifies the definition of exterior surfaces to include such items as playground equipment or other structures under a property owner's control;
- Lowers the elevated blood lead level to 15 micrograms per deciliter, at which rental property owners who are in compliance with the law may make a qualified offer to affected tenants to pay for uncovered medical and relocation costs.
Additional changes in the law can be found at: www.mde.state.md.us/programs/landprograms/leadcoordination, or in Maryland, call toll free 800/633-6101, ext. 4199.
MDE's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program has been coordinating with local governments and property owners associations to do outreach and education on the lead laws, including the newly enacted provisions.
Children are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning from birth to age six, when their neurological systems are developing. 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. The most effective prevention of childhood lead poisoning is to reduce or eliminate exposure.
In addition to the provisions that are effective Oct. 1, there is an existing deadline of Feb. 24, 2006, to have 100 percent of all pre-1950 constructed rental properties in compliance with the risk reduction standard.
Maryland's 2005 Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is Oct. 23-29, coinciding with the Centers for Disease Control national recognition of this issue. 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.
Maryland's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is proud to report that:
- since July 2004, MDE has increased its lead rental registry by more than 20,000 units;
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 1,811 in 2004; that is a record 1.7 percent of the 105,500 tested; and
- 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 principle state agency charged with lead 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.