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Fighting lead poisoning in Baltimore

Posted at 10:50 PM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 11:51:01-05

BALTIMORE — It's in many homes in Baltimore--- ruining lives before they can get started.

Baltimore City had more than 99 new cases of lead poisoning last year.

On Wednesday the people charged with doing something about it discussed how to combat the crisis.

All children are required to be tested for lead poisoning before they are admitted to schools at ages 1 and 2.

The problem-- many fall through the cracks and only about a quarter actually get tested - because some schools aren't enforcing the rules.

Lawrence Brown came to the meeting to testify saying that lead poisoning robs academic potential.

“It hurts people’s ability to focus, it’s correlated with ADD and ADHD,” said Brown. “In terms of what’s happening in our streets, we know that lead increases impulsivity and aggression.”

The forum is a step for the city to create a plan to eliminate lead poison that's making families in Baltimore City sick.

Rentals account for 60 percent of the cases.

Brown said the city should be in a state of emergency to deal with the issue.

“The young adults like Freddie Grey and Korynn Gaines. We’re not wrestling with the implications of even the children that need medical treatment, nutritional therapy, and behavioral therapy even now.”

It costs around $13,000 to make a home "lead safe" which doesn't mean lead free.

The estimate to eliminate lead completely is around $845 million.

The chair of the commission is Councilman Kristerfer Burnett, and they are charged with the finding the funding for while balancing the rest of the budget.

“Whether it be through Kirwan Commission or continues our expenditures for the police department,” Burnett said. “The need for affordable housing, there’s a lot of pressures that we have in the city of Baltimore. We also know as city government we have a responsibility to help our citizens heal and put them in positions to thrive.”

The hearing was part of a larger series that will run through 2020.

The cases of child elevated blood lead levels is down by about 2,000 from 20 years ago.