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E-M:/ FW: Screening for lead poisoning

Title: Screening for lead poisoning

-----Original Message-----
From: gov_office@MICHIGAN.GOV [mailto:gov_office@MICHIGAN.GOV]
Sent: Monday, April 12, 2004 4:35 PM
Subject: Screening for lead poisoning


Governor Granholm Applauds New Laws to Require Screenings for Lead Poisoning

LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm said two new laws she signed today will help identify children who have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead, better protecting them from lifelong health complications.  She also called on the Legislature to send her the rest of the four-bill package for her signature.

“As many as 20,000 children under the age of 6 in our state may be affected by lead poisoning,” Granholm said.  “The lead poisoning in those children is largely undetected, undiagnosed, and untreated.  These new laws will help us act quicker to get them the medical care they need to overcome the devastating effects of lead poisoning.”

The Governor signed into law House Bill 5119, sponsored by State Representative Carl Williams (D-Saginaw).  The new law will require that the Department of Community Health, starting January 1, 2006, work to ensure that any provider, facility or health maintenance organization (HMO) receiving Medicaid payments conduct screenings for lead poisoning in children as required by federal law.

“Representative Williams has been pushing for this change in Michigan law since taking office in 2000,” Granholm said.  “He has championed this issue his entire career in the Legislature, and I commend him for not giving up until this bill reached my desk.”

The Governor also signed House Bill 5117, sponsored by State Representative Stephen Ehardt (R-Lexington).  The new law will require that, beginning October 1, 2005, a clinical laboratory that analyzed a blood sample for lead report its findings to the Department of Community Health electronically.

Three other bills in the five-bill package still await legislative action.  These bills would establish a lead safe house registry to help families determine if their house or apartment is free of lead.  The Kolb bill would create a childhood lead poisoning prevention and control commission within the Department of Community Health to study the threat of lead poisoning, review the state’s lead poisoning prevention program, and evaluate its effectiveness.  The commission would develop recommendations for childhood lead poisoning prevention and control in the state.

“It is imperative that the Legislature act soon to give the state the tools we need to protect families and prevent lead poisoning,” Granholm said.  “The new laws I signed today are a great step forward, but we need comprehensive protection and prevention programs.”

Lead is a toxin that builds up in the body as it is ingested.  Children often are exposed to lead through cracking, peeling, lead-based paint in older buildings.  Lead-based paints were banned more than 30 years ago, but many older homes and buildings still have remnants of the paint on walls or trim.  People of any age can be adversely affected by lead exposure, but young children are especially vulnerable, because their brains are still developing.

In Michigan, the highest incidences of lead poisoning are in the counties of Wayne, Kent, Muskegon, Berrien, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Genesee, Ingham, Saginaw, and Oakland.  Cities of particular concern are Detroit, where 63 percent of the houses were built prior to 1950, and Grand Rapids, which has the highest concentration of lead poisoning in the state.  In some areas of Detroit, children have blood lead levels up to 10 times the national average.

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