Federal authorities took action Friday to ensure a faster response when children in federally subsidized housing are exposed to lead, which can cause learning disabilities and behavior problems and has been a particular menace in Baltimore.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development lowered the threshold for lead in a child's blood to match guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When a child younger than 6 has a level of 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood, landlords must take action that includes testing for potential sources in paint, dust or soil and controlling the lead.
The previous level in the subsidized housing was 20 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.
HUD expect the rule will cover about 3 million subsidized housing units built before 1978, the year lead-based paint was banned for residential use. An estimated 500,000 of the units are home to children under age 6.
Longtime local advocate Ruth Ann Norton had pushed for the change for years and said it speaks to the growing understanding that there "is no safe level of lead."