May 19, 2011

Maryland First to Adopt National Lead Dust Testing Standard

Coalition praises Governor’s commitment to protecting Maryland’s most vulnerable children from lead poisoning

BALTIMORE - The Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning today praised Governor Martin O'Malley for once again standing up to protect Maryland's children by signing House Bill 1033, which makes lead dust testing mandatory for all of Maryland's older rental properties. The legislation will ensure that children are protected in older rental housing from the dangers of childhood lead poisoning, regardless of socioeconomic status or the neighborhoods in which they live.

"The Maryland Legislature and Governor's Office have reinforced their commitment to deliver on our promise to end the tragic, costly and entirely preventable effects of childhood lead poisoning," said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the National Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning. "Delegates Nathaniel Oaks and Maggie McIntosh and Senator Lisa Gladden deserve special thanks for ensuring that our children will be able to grow up in healthier homes that willpromote better school performance, more stable neighborhoods and improved quality of life."

The Coalition lauded Governor O'Malley's efforts to continue Maryland's long tradition of leadership in the fight to end childhood lead poisoning. Lead poisoning levels have declined in the state by 98 percent since 1993. Yet, still more than 500 children are diagnosed each year with high lead levels. Studies have shown that children who are lead poisoned are seven times more likely to drop out of school before graduating and have increased likelihood of involvement in the criminal justice system, both of which have long-term social and economic consequences for families and communities.

"In our state, there is no such thing as a spare Marylander, and therefore even one child with elevated levels of lead is one too many," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Together, we've made significant gains to protect our children,particularly those who live in older rental housing. And we must continue to do more. Reducing exposure to lead paint dust is the core of our program to prevent lead poisoning, and today I'm honored to add my signature to this bill."

House Bill 1033 represents the next step in Maryland's fight to protect every child. The bill makes lead dust testing a requirement in order to meet the full risk reduction standard in affected rental properties. Lead dust, which is easily ingested, is the most common source of lead in a child's body, and cannot always be identified through a visual inspection alone. Lead dust testing is the most readily available and verifiable method of determining toxicity levels in a home. Since 1999, the federal government has mandated the use of lead dust clearance testing in homes funded directly or indirectly by federal dollars.

"We applaud this action by the State of Maryland to strengthen the State's lead regulations," said Jon Gant, director of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control. "Lead dust testing is one of the best ways to ensure that homes are safe for children and this action makes Maryland's law one of the most protective in the country."

"All Maryland children deserve the protection afforded by lead dust testing; not just those children fortunate enough to reside in housing touched by federal dollars or whose owners voluntarily use the test," said Norton. "Now, thanks to the leadership of Governor O'Malley,legislative leaders, and the work of the Coalition and numerous community advocates, every Maryland child who resides in an older rental property will have that protection."

media inquiries

For more information about the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, and for press and communications matters, please contact:

Kaletha Henry, Senior Communications Associate (443)-842-5712

To arrange an interview with our President & CEO Ruth Ann Norton, members of the media should contact:

Julie Villar, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO (443)-842-5713