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New Push To Strengthen Lead Paint Regulations

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Cracking down on lead paint. Lead poisoning can cause permanent brain damage in children–or even kill them. Now there’s a new federal push to tighten regulations.

Kai Jackson has more.

The CDC advisory committee made that recommendation Wednesday. A Baltimore group fighting to eradicate lead poisoning is optimistic.

It could prove to be a watershed moment in the fight against lead poisoning. Wednesday, an advisory committee with the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control recommended a change in the definition of lead poisoning.

“It’s a decision that’s long overdue. Research has clearly shown that even at lower levels, lead exposure and lead poisoning can be extremely harmful,” said Wes Stewart, Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.

The current definition of lead poisoning is 10 micrograms per decileter in the blood. The group of scientists and experts wants that number lowered to five micrograms per decileter.

Stewart is with the Baltimore-based Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.

“For the United States, that means over 450,000 kids even today are still going to be considered [affected by] lead poisoning. That’s hundreds of thousands more kids who have elevated levels of lead in their blood,” he said.

For decades, Baltimore and other cities across the country have fought to eradicate lead, much of it coming from paint in older homes. Children six years of age and younger is the group used to define lead poisoning, a group most at risk for developmental disabilities and many other problems from lead.

“It increases the rate of early mortality by 46 percent,” said Ruth Ann Norton, Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.

The CDC has never rejected a recommendation from an advisory committee of this type.

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