In Baltimore, we just had a lead paint damage award thrown out because the victims failed to meet a very short exposure timeline that holds the landlord and the city responsible for damages. These victims came forward with the lawsuit several years after exposure so were not eligible to sue for damages. This is the point: it takes years for family and/or community agents to detect the effects of lead poisoning on a child's mental health and these underseved families do not have access to healthcare that allows for routine lead exposure.
The law below makes all kinds of great guidelines for follow-up for reporting of lead contamination and it even institutes a fund to pay limited damages in the future, but we all know that most of these parents will not discover the problem soon enough for this to be relevant and we know that monitoring and follow-up on registered lead housing is lax. So this law will do almost nothing to protect the families...it basically gives the landlords ammunion for dismissing charges. This is how a bill is made to look proactive for the public when in fact it is meant to protect the business. Below is a government assessment of this bill's positive affects and at the bottom you see the motivator for this bill....a Federal law lowering the lead paint damage requirements.
General Assembly 2011: Lead paint protections strengthened, septic system curbs and other environmental initiatives marked for summer study
One bill that gained approval modifies the requirements of Maryland’s successful lead paint program. House Bill 1033 requires owners of pre-1950 rental properties to obtain a passing “dust test” for each rental unit and ensure that any chipping, peeling, or flaking paint is removed or repainted at the time of turn over. Currently, affected property owners are given the choice of obtaining a dust test or showing that they undertook remediation, but improperly done remediation can either fail to remove hazards or, in some cases, worsen them.
The bill also calls for the establishment of a study group to evaluate such issues as the fee structure for rental property registration under the Maryland lead law and ways to fight lead poisoning in owner-occupied properties or rental properties not covered by the state’s 1994 law. Since 1993, Maryland has reduced childhood lead poisoning by nearly 98 percent, and in 2009 more Maryland children were tested for lead poisoning and fewer were poisoned by lead than in any year since figures have been collected. But today more Maryland children with elevated blood lead levels live in housing not covered by Maryland’s lead law than in regulated rental housing.
CDC lowers lead poisoning threshold A sixfold increase in Maryland children potentially at risk
By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun 9:19 p.m. EDT, May 16, 2012
The number of young children deemed at risk of lead poisoning in Maryland and nationwide expanded drastically Wednesday as a federal health agency declared it would effectively cut in half its threshold for diagnosing the environmental illness.
Acknowledging mounting evidence that children can suffer lasting harm from ingesting even minute amounts of lead, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would reduce the level at which it recommends that doctors, families and health authorities act to lower a child's exposure to the toxic metal.
Officials estimate the CDC's adoption of a new "reference level" for assessing low-level exposure to lead could add 200,000 children nationwide to 250,000 considered poisoned under the old threshold. In Maryland, the percentage increase is probably even greater. Under the new standard, 3,500 more children statewide would have been added to the 531 who tested positive for lead poisoning in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available.
But the federal agency's move comes even as its own funding for fighting lead poisoning has been slashed, leaving state and local governments with fewer resources to tackle what has now been recognized as a much bigger problem.
Baltimore's Health Department, for instance, received $300,000 from the CDC this year to track poisoning cases and help families reduce their children's exposure. Since last summer, according to spokesman Brian Schleter, the department has contacted about 270 families of children whose blood showed levels of lead below the old CDC threshold, offering to visit their homes and share tips on how to reduce exposure.
But those federal funds are due to run out by September, as Congress this year slashed the CDC's budget to fight lead poisoning from $29 million to $2 million. Schleter said the loss presents "significant budgetary challenges" that could force cuts in staff assigned to deal with a drastically increased caseload.
Since 1991, the CDC's "level of concern" had been a level of lead in a child's blood as low as 10 micrograms per deciliter – as little as 100 parts per billion. But Christopher J. Portier, director of the agency's Center for Environmental Health, said in an interview that studies have shown for years that children with even lower levels can suffer adverse effects, such as learning and behavior problems.
By dropping its threshold, Portier said, the agency is emphasizing what it has been saying for some time: There is no safe level of exposure.
Though poisoning cases occur statewide, the bulk of the lead problem in Maryland has long been in Baltimore, which, according to the Health Department has eight times the nationwide incidence of poisoning cases.
The vast majority of Maryland cases have been linked to ingestion of dust and flakes from lead-based paint, which at one time was widely used in housing. Baltimore banned its use in homes in 1950, and the federal government outlawed its residential use in 1978, but the paint remains in many older houses. Other possible sources include older water pipes, lead dust in soil and imported toys or jewelry made of lead or coated with lead-based paint.
Under the old threshold, the number of lead-poisoning cases in Maryland has declined 98 percent since the mid-1990s, when state law began requiring that owners of pre-1950 rental housing take steps to repair and clean their units to reduce the risks to young tenants of ingesting lead paint dust or flakes.
State officials say they are already talking about how to respond to the CDC's action. Maryland's lead poisoning laws are based on the old poisoning threshold, officials note, so the law might have to be changed before the state can take regulatory action to further reduce exposure levels.
"There are practical barriers to doing that, but lower lead levels are better for kids, and the best level for kids is zero," said Dr. Clifford S. Mitchell, head of environmental health in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
One concern is that the state's current blood testing procedure might not be good enough to reliably measure lead at levels below the old CDC threshold, said Horacio A. Tablada, land management director of the Maryland Department of the Environment, who oversees state efforts to reduce lead exposure.
Without more funds, Tablada said, his office might be unable to follow up on a vastly expanded number of new poisoning reports without diluting the attention they give the most serious cases. Ten inspectors now check on pre-1950 rental housing across much of the state, he said, though Baltimore's Health Department handles its own cases.
State health officials, meanwhile, say they are trying to figure out what to advise pediatricians and health-care providers to do with children who show lead below the 10 microgram level in their blood. The new reference level would effectively lower the standard for poisoning to about 5 micrograms per deciliter.
The CDC's Portier said his agency wants doctors to recheck the files of children not previously considered at risk of poisoning.
"It's going to have to be handled on a case-by-case basis by physicians, but our recommendation would be to revisit those cases," Portier said. Doctors should routinely ask families of children 6 years old and younger for an environmental history, he said, including asking whether they live in a house built before lead paint was banned.
Though acutely dangerous levels of lead in the blood can be reduced through chelation therapy, health experts point out there is no effective treatment for reducing already-low lead levels, other than removing the source of the poisoning — or the victim. The best treatment, they say, is preventing exposure in the first place.
THE BILL BELOW WAS CRITICAL FOR THE CITIZENS OF MARYLAND IF, IN THE FUTURE THEY WANT TO SUE FOR DAMAGES TO THE STATE'S AQUIFERS FROM FRACKING CHEMICAL CONTAMINATION. WHAT THE LEGISLATURE DID WAS TO PROTECT THE FRACKING INDUSTRY FROM WHAT WILL BE CONTAMINATION LEACHING FROM FRACKING IN PA, WVA, AND OHIO. IF A STATE DOES NOT HAVE A STUDY THAT PROVES THESE FRACKING CHEMICALS WERE NOT IN THE AQUIFERS BEFORE FRACKING STARTED, THEN THE CITIZENS CAN'T SUE....THAT IS WHAT THIS BILL IS ABOUT. CITIZENS IN THE MIDWEST STATES AND IN PA HAVE TRIED TO SUE FOR DAMAGES FROM FRACKING AND THE COURTS HAVE DENIED THEIR CLAIMS DUE TO LACK OF BASELINE DATA LIKE THIS. THIS IS MET TO PROTECT THE FRACKING INDUSTRY!
HB 852/SB 634, the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Act of 2011, was not approved by the full General Assembly. The bills would have required MDE to study certain issues related to safety and water quality before issuing any drilling permits, and would have imposed a fee on applicants to fund the study. On June 6, Governor Martin O’Malley issued an Executive Order establishing the Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative. The Order requires MDE and the Department of Natural Resources, in consultation with an advisory commission made up of a broad array of stakeholders, to undertake a study of drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus Shale in Western Maryland.