Baltimore City Health Officials Find Up To 2,400 Times the Maximum Allowable Lead Level in Jewelry Sold by Local Vendor

Baltimore City Health Commissioner issues order to halt sale of two pieces of children’s jewelry after testing measured 900 to 2,400 times the permissible lead level (see photos of jewelry).
News release below provided by Baltimore City Health Department:
BALTIMORE, MD (December 11, 2012)—The Baltimore City Health Department has issued a Notice And Order To Remove Health Nuisance to Choice Corner, 400 W Lexington St. to prohibit the sale of two items of jewelry that were identified with a lead level in metal components above 100 parts per million (ppm). The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has been alerted to the most recent findings.
The Health Commissioner is deeming all products of the same style and manufacturer of these items to be a nuisance to public health. These products may not be offered for retail sale in Baltimore City.
Excess lead levels in children can severely impair development and can even cause death.
“These products sell for $1 each, but they are hardly a bargain. The costs of lead poisoning can last a lifetime,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The lead content in these two products is off the charts, making them a significant danger to small children.”
Lead is a neurotoxin that can cause severe illness and even death at high doses and cognitive impairment and other neurological problems at lower doses. On August 14, 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission published new, more stringent standards on permissible lead content in children’s products. As of August 14, 2011, the permissible level of lead in children’s jewelry with metal components was lowered to 100 ppm of total lead.
The following items were sold at the Choice Corner, 400 W. Lexington St.:
1) Item: Blue Kitty Ring.  Total Lead Content:  240,000ppm
2) Item: Silver Rhinestone Kitty Necklace & Earring Set. 
Total Lead Content: Necklace Clasp 160,000ppm; Necklace Charm 9,800ppm
The Health Department ordered laboratory testing of five children’s jewelry products purchased from 3 stores in Baltimore City. Only the above products were found to be in excess of 100 parts per million.
“Parents who may have purchased these products should discard them immediately. The Health Department will continue to look for children’s products with high lead levels so parents can shop with confidence, knowing toys sold in the city are safe,” Dr. Barbot said.
To reduce the chances of lead poisoning, parents should not allow children to swallow, suck on or chew a metal charm or necklace jewelry.
Baltimore’s regulation on lead in children’s jewelry can be found here.

GHHI Highlighted by Baltimore City Paper as a Nonprofit to Support this Holiday Season

The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative is pleased to be featured as one of the nonprofits to support this holiday season in the Baltimore City Paper’s “Do-Gooder To-Do List.” Is GHHI on the list that you’ve checked twice this year? You can do so by supporting GHHI’s efforts to create healthy homes, safe children and happy families by making a donation here: http://www.greenandhealthyhomes.org/get-involved/donate

Reducing the Energy Cost Burden this Holiday Season

Decking the halls is far from the minds of some families this holiday season. For many families, the exorbitant heating costs they face during this time of the year are top of mind.
The Green & Healthy Homes Initiative surveyed 107 clients in Baltimore and found that 82 percent of respondents reported an energy burden, indicating they “always” or “sometimes” had difficulty paying monthly utility bills. Fifty-four percent of respondents indicated that they consider their monthly energy bills to be “high,” and 32 percent reported that greater than one-fifth of their monthly income goes to paying utility bills. Thirty-eight percent of respondents also reported that they have received energy assistance in the last 12 months.
Making one’s home more energy efficient and properly weatherized both go a long way in lessening the energy cost burden. In addition to the significant negative health outcomes caused by excess heat and cold, improving energy-efficiency provides much needed financial relief to low-income families better enabling them to meet basic needs such rent or mortgage payments.
There are many low-cost solutions that will enhance comfort and reduce utility costs for residents. Some actions, such as filling in holes that harbor rodents as part of an integrated pest management strategy, not only make the home healthier but also enhance the structural integrity, making it more energy efficient to heat and cool.
Want more information on energy-savings tips to adopt this winter? From covering drafty windows to finding and sealing leaks, the U.S. Department of Energy offers helpful fall and winter energy-savings tips.
Inquire about GHHI’s Energy Efficiency and Weatherization intervention services. Services are provided free of charge to qualifying families living in low-income neighborhoods. For property owners or families not meeting grant qualifications, we offer the same comprehensive services on a fee-for-service basis. To learn more, please email marylandprograms@ghhi.org or call 410-534-6447.
Keep your family safe and warm this winter without the energy cost burden attached. 

Responding to Hurricane Sandy: Important Healthy Housing Tips

Hurricane damage can exacerbate flooding in homes and can lead to problems with mold, lead, asbestos, bacteria, and carbon monoxide. After a hurricane strikes and flooding occurs in your home, it is important to pay attention to hazards that may be present during repairs and cleanup that can cause long term health effects. Click here to continue reading about important healthy housing tips.  
 

Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission Public Meeting, Nov. 8

Earlier this year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took important action to lower the threshold for action for elevated blood lead levels from 10 μg/dl to 5 μg/dl, following decades of scientific research that supported the long-held understanding that there is no safe level of lead for a child. Under these new guidelines, there are 3,200 children diagnosed with lead poisoning in Maryland and more than 440,000 nationwide.
On November 8, the Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission will host a public meeting to address important questions resulting from the CDC’s recent recommendations on lowering the threshold for childhood lead poisoning and focus on primary prevention. 
The Commission has been asked by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide input into two questions related to the CDC’s recent recommendations that now provide a reference level of 5 micrograms/deciliter. The two questions of concern for the Department are:

How should the new CDC guidelines influence current protocols for referral and case management, particularly for children with a confirmed blood lead between 5 and 9 micrograms/deciliter (mcg/dL)? In particular, should local health departments have the same response for children with blood leads between 5-9 mcg/dL as they do for those children with blood leads of 10 mcg/dL and above?


What is the most appropriate management of children who have previously had blood lead levels between 5 – 9 mcg/dL?

The Commission invites interested members of the public and health care community to attend the meeting and present their opinions on these questions. If you would like to attend and need more information, please contact the DHMH environmental health help line toll-free at 1-866-703-3266. If you wish to submit written testimony, please provide the Commission with 20 copies.
What: Maryland Lead Poisoning Prevention Commission Public Meeting on Management of Lead in Maryland
When: November 8, 2012
9:30 a.m. – noon
Where: Maryland Department of the Environment
1800 Washington Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21230
 

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