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City Council measure would require lead poisoning tests for children; Proposal expected to pass; those under age 7 targeted


Every child in Baltimore under the age of 7 would have to be tested for lead poisoning under a bill making its way through the City Council.

The bill, one of several aimed at combating the poisoning of Baltimore children, would require parents or guardians to have their children tested for lead poisoning. It also would add medical laboratories to the list of agencies that would forward results to the city Health Department.

"The point of this bill is to get the kids tested," Councilman John L. Cain, a Southeast Baltimore Democrat, said after last night's council meeting. "It applies to every kid."

The bill, which the council is expected to pass, is set to come up for a final vote on Monday.

To ensure the bill's success, Cain said council members agreed to reduce to $100 the fine for not reporting test results. The initial proposal was for a $1,000 fine.

"The pediatricians wanted the provision taken out of the bill," he said. "A bill of this magnitude needs penalties. Otherwise, it'll be ignored."

Cain said the test costs $5 to $10 and should be covered by insurance. He said the Health Department would absorb the cost of testing an estimated 3,000 uninsured children.

Also last night, the council approved a measure that requires city officials to post warning notices on any house where a child has been poisoned by lead, until the property is deemed safe. Anyone renting the property before the problem is corrected could be fined up to $1,000.

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