Hogan Administration Announces New Lead-Testing Plan for Children
All Maryland Toddlers Would Be Evaluated at Ages 1 and 2
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Hogan administration today announced the new Lead Testing Targeting Plan for Childhood Lead, which calls for all Maryland children to be tested at ages 1 and 2, no matter where they live. Previously, only children living in so-called “at risk” ZIP codes or who were enrolled in Medicaid had to be tested.
“We have made great progress in reducing lead exposure in Maryland over the past 20 years,” Governor Hogan said. “However, we need to test all children, not just a handful, in order to put an end to childhood lead poisoning in Maryland once and for all.”
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford today joined Deputy Secretary Dr. Howard Haft of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as Secretary Benjamin Grumbles of the Department of the Environment, to announce the new plan at Total Health Care in Baltimore, one of Maryland’s largest minority-run, nonprofit, tax-exempt community health centers.
“The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of the Environment have completed a study that shows the need for testing in all jurisdictions across Maryland,” said Deputy Secretary Haft. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new recommendation is five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. Every jurisdiction in the state has children with blood lead levels higher than that.”
“We are making progress but have much more to do to win the battle against childhood lead poisoning in Maryland,” said Secretary Grumbles, whose department houses the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. “In the early days of Maryland’s lead program, the vast majority of children with lead poisoning came from rental homes built before 1950 in Baltimore City. Now we are seeing an increased proportion of lead poisoning cases linked to newer rental homes and owner-occupied homes in other parts of Maryland. The Department of the Environment is committed to initiatives that will reduce children’s exposure to lead in all types of housing in all areas of the state.”
Maryland agencies work in partnership with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative to fight lead poisoning.
“While testing does not prevent lead poisoning, it is a critical measure to ensure we invest funding for prevention where it is needed most and that we identify at-risk children who may be missed through targeted testing,” said Ruth Ann Norton, President and CEO of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. “It is clear that lead poisoning is not limited to Baltimore City but is a concern throughout Maryland and the United States. Given GHHI’s mission to break the link between unhealthy housing and unhealthy families, we are committed to ending childhood lead poisoning so that all children may reach their full potential. We thank Governor Hogan and the State of Maryland for advancing this important step to protect Maryland’s kids.”
Health and Mental Hygiene has worked closely with the provider community and the Departments of the Environment and Housing and Community Development to identify resources for parents whose children are found to have elevated lead levels.
“The most important thing is that parents and providers make sure that children receive follow-up care, if they have elevated blood lead levels,” said Deputy Secretary Haft. “Children need to be retested to make certain their levels are going down, and providers need to work with parents to be sure there are no sources of lead that need to be fixed.”
Health and Mental Hygiene has a website with resources at http://goo.gl/K1NpkT and a toll-free help line for more information at 866-703-3266.
To prevent childhood lead poisoning, the Department of the Environment assures compliance with mandatory requirements for lead risk reduction in rental units built before 1978. Maryland’s 1994 lead law had previously applied to rental units built before 1950, when lead paint was prohibited in Baltimore City. Because a significant percentage of new childhood lead poisoning cases are linked to homes built after 1949, the universe of properties covered under the law was expanded to include rental properties built before 1978, when the use of lead paint was prohibited nationally. That change became effective January 1, 2015.
More information on Environment’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program is available at http://bit.ly/PreventLeadPoisonMD.