Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Bill Advances in State Senate

Senator Hueso’s legislation would increase effectiveness of case management efforts
April 26, 2018

Sacramento, CA – April 26, 2018 – A bill authored by California State Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) that would impose greater reporting requirements on the State with regards to childhood lead exposure has received the unanimous approval of the Senate Health Committee, an important step in ensuring appropriate case management data related to children who have been exposed to lead. Senate Bill No. 1097 cleared the policy committee yesterday with a 9-0 vote and now advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 1097 would instruct the California Department of Public Health, when preparing its biennial report describing the effectiveness of case management efforts related to lead poisoning in children, to aggregate the data by county, as well as post the information online. This will help ensure that localities are providing continuous and adequate levels of case management in relation to the number of children tested for lead exposure, and those found to have high levels of lead in their blood. SB 1097 will additionally require that the report include information about the identified sources of lead exposure for children having lead poisoning.

“It is imperative that we receive more detailed and transparent reporting from the State so that we can prevent and properly handle future cases of lead poisoning”, said Senator Hueso. “California must and should identify as many children as the law allows”.

Lead is a neurotoxin that, at high levels of exposure, can attack the brain and nervous system causing coma, seizures or even death. This is particularly true for children, who are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning. While lead poisoning can threaten children of any socioeconomic status, children from lower-income families are more likely to be exposed to sources of lead.

The Department of Public Health is responsible for ensuring proper case management as it relates to the Childhood Lead Poison Prevention Program. However, in 2000 the Environmental Working Group found that between 1992 and 1998, the State failed to identify, test, or provide care to an estimated 200,000 lead poisoned children aged 1-5. The organization’s current analysis of 2013 data, which covers just one year and a smaller range, suggests little or no improvement.

“Given this data, it is absolutely necessary that we ensure appropriate case management for children already exposed to dangerous levels of lead”, said Senator Hueso.

Senate Bill No. 1097 is sponsored by the Environmental Working Group.