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Lead testing for children is up; cases are down

The Baltimore Sun

Across the state, more children are being tested for lead, and fewer are showing elevated levels of the hazard in their blood streams, the Maryland Department of the Environment announced yesterday.

In 2006, the department tested 102,974 children under the age of 6, compared with 99,148 in 2005. In Baltimore, which is an area of high risk for lead levels among children, 18,363 children were tested, an increase from 17,943 in 2005.

In 2006, 1,274 children had an elevated blood lead level, which by law is 10 micrograms per deciliter or above, compared with 1,331 children in 2005.

Most of those children lived in Baltimore, The city reported 843 children out of the 18,363 tested in 2006 had elevated lead levels, compared with 853 children out of the 17,943 tested in 2005.

Horacio Tablada, director of waste management at MDE, said more children are being tested in part because of a city ordinance passed in 2000 that made testing mandatory for all city children at 12 months and 24 months.

Medicaid also requires all children living in Baltimore to be tested at 12 months and 24 months.

Lead paint dust from renovation or deterioration can cause severe developmental problems in children.

Lead paint was used until 1978 and remains in many Baltimore rowhouses. Tablada said the department has been working with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to make sure every child that should be tested is tested.

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