BALTIMORE, MD (January 31, 2006) – Rental property owners across the state are approaching a crucial deadline for proper leasing of their units built prior to 1950. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) reminds rental property owners that come Feb. 24, all pre-1950 constructed units must have had at least one lead hazard risk reduction treatment. Failure to comply with this law may result in a fine of $250 per day.
“A decade ago, nearly 20 percent of Maryland children tested had elevated blood lead levels. In 2004, under two percent of all children tested had an elevated blood lead level,” said Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a father of two. “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 last May will help eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Maryland by 2010.”
Although the February 24, 2006 deadline – known as the 100% Rule – is part of Maryland’s lead law that has been in effect for the last decade, Governor Ehrlich’s initiative passed into law last year added the important measure of setting the standard for initiating intervention when a blood lead level of 10 micrograms per deciliter is found. Mandatory remediation of lead hazards in the home upon a single blood lead level test of 10 micrograms per deciliter is the most protective level in the nation, and – along with implementation of the 100% Rule – is intended to reduce the incidence of childhood lead poisoning while maintaining an acceptable stock of affordable housing.
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.
“Decreasing the threat of lead poisoning in all homes, whether rented or not, is a priority that we take very seriously,” said MDE Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. “Those who do not comply with these requirements are endangering our future. 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.”
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.
MDE has spread the word about the deadline in its registration renewal packets distributed to more than 25,000 rental property owners and ads in regional housing publications.
MDE, in partnership with the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, has also conducted property owner trainings across the state over the past year. “We are seeking small property owners, those out-of-state or even absentee owners who may not be aware of the deadline so that they can bring their properties into compliance,” Philbrick added.
Property owners who will not meet the Feb. 24 deadline may contact MDE and elect to enter into a settlement agreement, which does not waive penalties but offers other benefits. Those interested in signing such an agreement may submit a Property Owner Compliance Form that can be found on MDE’s website at: mde.maryland.gov/lead under “Related Topics.”
There are an estimated 135,000 pre-1950 rental units in the state. To date, MDE records indicate that nearly 90,000 units have met the full lead risk reduction standards by either passing a test for contaminated lead dust or by performing treatments authorized under the law. Roughly 30,000 of the 135,000 units are certified lead-free.
In addition to having conducted lead hazard risk reduction treatments, pre-1950 rental property owners must annually register their unit(s) with MDE, perform risk reduction work each time there is a change in tenants and provide tenants with information on the lead status of their unit.
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.
For more information on Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program or the Feb. 24 deadline call the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (410) 537-3942.