Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (October 21, 2005) --Maryland’s 2005 Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week begins Sunday and runs through Oct. 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.

“A decade ago, nearly 25 percent of Maryland children tested had elevated blood lead levels. Now, under 2 percent of all children tested are impacted,” Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. states in a proclamation noting the week. “While we have made great strides, there is no reason for a single child in this state to suffer from lead poisoning, a preventable disease. The lead poisoning initiative I sponsored and signed into law in May will help eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Maryland by 2010.”

The effects of 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.

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is the principle state agency charged with lead poisoning prevention. MDE also runs the statewide lead rental registry, conducts enforcement actions and coordinates with state and local agencies on lead poisoning prevention measures. Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is proud to report that:

  • two successful registration drives since July, 2004 increased the state’s lead rental registry by 22,000 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 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.

  • Conducted targeted outreach sessions to property owners and local governments explaining Maryland’s lead laws.

“Lead poisoning remains Maryland’s most critical environmental challenge for children,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “All Marylanders should educate themselves on the dangers of lead paint before they rent, buy or renovate a home, and use safe practices when conducting any home maintenance.”

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. Some activities taking place at local health departments throughout the coming Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week are as follows.

In Allegany County informational radio ads will run throughout the week and a half page ad in the Cumberland Times will provide more information.

In Baltimore City, blood lead testing and information will be provided on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Healthy Living Fair in St. Patrick's Hall at 1728 Bank Street from 10 a.m. to 2 pm; and on Oct. 29 at New Antioch Church, located at 2122 E. Fairmont Ave. from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and at ACORN’s offices at 16 W. 25th St. from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Information packets will be mailed to daycare centers announcing free blood lead testing at the Baltimore City Health Department, at 312 North Charles St., on Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to Noon.

Baltimore County is displaying lead poisoning prevention information at the Senior Expo at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium and at the Harvest Fair sponsored by Franklin Square Hospital on Oct. 22.

Carroll County will share lead info at its Family Health Festival Oct. 22 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Westminster Town Mall. Copies of Sesame Street’s “Get the Lead Out” video will be available at all Carroll County public libraries. Lead prevention education materials will be also be handed out at the Car Safety Seat Check event at the Len Stoler automotive dealership in Westminster on Oct 26.

Day care centers in Wicomico County had students draw pictures regarding lead poisoning prevention. The drawings will be placed in the Wicomico County Free Library so the public can view them. Salisbury’s mayor will judge the art and choose first, second and third place winners. The Wicomico Health Department will donate cash awards of $300, $200 and $100 to the winners for their school to use for supplies. Also in Salisbury, the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning will host a press conference on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church [528 Booth St.] to announce the opening of a new Eastern Shore Coalition office established in partnership with MDE’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

For more information on Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Week go online to MDE’s Lead Line at.