BALTIMORE, MD (October 23, 2006) – Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., delivering on his commitment to eliminate childhood lead poisoning by 2010, kicked off Maryland’s 2006 Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week today joined by Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick, representatives from the Maryland State Departments of Education, Health and Mental Hygiene, Housing and Community Development, state and local officials and Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.
“A decade ago, nearly 25 percent of Maryland children tested had elevated blood lead levels. In 2005,only 1.3 percent of all children tested had an elevated blood lead level,” said Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. “The lead poisoning initiative I sponsored and signed into law two years ago provides further protection for Maryland children that will help eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Maryland by 2010. While we have made great strides, there is no reason for a single child to suffer from lead poisoning, a preventable disease.”
Governor Ehrlich issued a proclamation designating October 22-28, 2006, “Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week” coinciding with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention national recognition of this issue. The State and Coalition are partnering for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, a week-long series of activities across the state that highlight what parents and property owners can do to prevent lead poisoning.
During the Governor’s comments at Perry Hall High School in Baltimore County, Governor Ehrlich highlighted his administration’s progress. Over the last five years, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has initiated nearly 1,500 enforcement actions resulting in nearly 11,000 properties coming into compliance and collected over $1 million in penalties from non-compliant landlords. Funds collected are used to support the state’s efforts to fight lead poisoning in the state.
“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.”
Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program announced a new initiative to help educate those at risk or potential risk. The Maryland Department of the Environment, with the assistance of EnviroHealth Connections, a cooperative project of the Institute for Urban Environmental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Maryland Public Television, and the Maryland State Department of Education, has made lead poisoning prevention lessons available for use to address the high school core learning goals. Lesson plans in health, chemistry, environmental health, and government are available on-line at www.Thinkport.org for use by all teachers.
MDE is the principal 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.
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. Throughout Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, education and volunteer opportunities are available across the state. Two key events are highlighted below:
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a Baltimore City Health Department press conference will be held at Casey Family Services, 25 N. Caroline Street, Baltimore.
Saturday, October 28, 2006, starting at 10 a.m., the March to 2010 will begin at the New Shiloh Baptist Church located at 2100 N. Monroe Street. Participants will join together for a one-mile march through the Sandtown-Winchester community. The purpose is to reaffirm the commitment to eliminate lead poisoning in Maryland by 2010.
During the event, the Governor highlighted the partnership between the state, The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, property owners and community advocates.
“The time is now to step up and deliver on the promise we made to Maryland's children to end childhood lead poisoning. We can no longer compromise their future by refusing to take action,” Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. “It is time to make sure that our homes and our laws create safe and healthy environments in which children can grow and thrive.”
For more information on Maryland’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and related activities across the state, visit: www.mde.state.md.us/citizensinfocenter/pollution_prevention/lead_line/index.asp or by call the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program at (800) 776-2706. Additional information is also available through The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning at www.leadsafe.org.