Thursday, January 17, 2019

Illinois Lowers Blood Lead Threshold for Children

childhood lead poisoning children's toys
In an effort to reduce childhood lead poisoning, Illinois
lowered its blood lead threshold for children while
increasing fines for lead paint violations.

This week, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) lowered its blood lead testing level for children. The new testing level, which is the minimum threshold for triggering public health outreach, has been lowered to 5 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (μg/dl). The new rule aims to reduce childhood lead poisoning in one of the most afflicted states in the nation.

Prior to the legislation, children had to present with a lead level of 10 μg/dl in order to trigger a public health intervention. New research, however, has indicated that no amount of lead can be considered safe. Like all heavy metals, lead poisoning is cumulative. This means small amounts of exposure over time can build up. The effects of lead poisoning are pronounced in children because their bodies are still developing. The longer a child goes without medical intervention, the more likely that their symptoms will be irreversible.

Now, Illinois' blood lead level threshold is in line with the latest recommendation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The new lead law will help more children receive medical attention before it's too late.

"The new lower action level means more children will be identified as having lead poisoning, allowing parents, doctors, public health officials, and communities to take action earlier to reduce the child's future exposure to lead," Dr. Nirav D. Shah, IDPH director, said in a recent press release.

Furthermore, the new lead paint rule will increase the maximum fine for lead paint violations. That means that property owners who fail to perform lead remediation in homes where lead-poisoned children are identified will face hefty fines. The same goes for contractors and remodelers who work on properties containing lead paint without a lead-safe renovator certification.

Illinois has one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the United States. Part of this is due to its old housing stock as old lead-based paint is the primary source of exposure in these cases. Another factor is lead-contaminated water; Chicago housing, for example, was built with lead pipe plumbing up until 1986 and there are more than 400,000 lead service lines still in use in the city.

Illinois state law already requires that all children six years or younger be tested for lead. The new lead paint rules will continue to support national effort to stop childhood lead poisoning.

The new rules will become effective in a few weeks and will be available in the Illinois Register. To learn more about lead paint certification, visit Zack Academy

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