New State Rules Aim to Speed up Intervention for Lead Poisoning

New State Rules Aim to Speed up Intervention for Lead Poisoning

ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois has one of the highest levels of childhood lead poisoning in the country and in an effort to combat the problem, the state is lowering the level of lead in blood that requires public health intervention.

New rules from the Illinois Department of Public Health cut those levels by half, which is in line with standards set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The changes are designed to get help to those who need it earlier, said Deanna Durica, director of the Cook County Health Department’s Lead poisoning Prevention and Healthy Homes Unit.

“When kids are identified, public health intervenes then to provide home visits and educate parents about how to keep their kids safe from lead hazard,” Durica said. “So the lower action level means we’re going to be intervening and protecting children sooner.”

The rules now allow public health interventions for children with blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter. The previous limit that triggered intervention was 10 micrograms per deciliter.

Durica said it’s recommended that physicians screen children younger than six.

“Kids who have kind of a positive ID on the screening tool, then the recommendation is that they receive a blood lead test,” Durica said.

A public health nurse will visit homes of children who test at or above the new intervention limits.

“There’s no acceptable level of exposure,” Durica said. “Research shows that even at low blood levels, children’s development can be affected. So it’s important to intervene as soon as you can.”

Durica said lead exposure can come from sources inside the home, such as lead paint, or other places.

“We do see a lot of exposure from deteriorating lead-based paint,” Durica said. “There are other sources that can expose children as well … imported pottery, imported spices, imported cosmetics, and we’ve seen some exposure there, too.”

She says early intervention is the best way to reduce lead’s harmful effects on children.

In Illinois, 229,000 children were tested for lead in 2017 with more than 7,000 showing blood levels at or above levels that would require intervention under the new rules.

The rules also propose harsher fines and allow for increased enforcement authority for violations of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act and Code.

Information can be found at the Illinois Register on the Illinois Secretary of State website.