By Jessica Kartalija

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Older homes in older cities mean a higher risk of lead poisoning. Children are especially at risk of lead poisoning. Now the Environmental Protection Agency is taking another step to keep Baltimore’s children safe.

Jessica Kartalija reports even a tiny amount of lead can lead to learning and reading disabilities and violent behavior.

For adults, heavy exposure can come from working in battery recycling, smelting or painting. It can affect adults’ kidneys and blood pressure.

“Kids poisoned by lead are seven times more likely to drop out of school, and they earn, as a group, billions and billions of dollars less per year,” said Ruth Ann Norton.

Norton is executive director of the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative. Together with the Environmental Protection Agency, the organization is taking steps to focus on continuing education to the residents about the dangers of lead poisoning.

There are 3,200 children in Maryland poisoned by lead each year and more than 535,000 nationwide.

“Although we have been able to reduce lead by 98 percent in Maryland, we still have 3,200 children who show up in our schools every year having been lead poisoned,” Norton said.

At St. Bernardine’s Head Start Center, the EPA announced a $30,000 grant that will provide even more education for families whose children may be at risk for lead poisoning.

“It’s a good thing they are doing for us, by educating us and not letting the cycle continue,” said Antonio Edison.

“I have four children, so I understand more about lead paint poisoning and how it affects kids,” said Nadine Grant, parent.

The push for better awareness comes during National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.

“It would be a crime if adults do not stand up for children,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings.

Lead poisoning is entirely preventable. Homes built before 1978 should be inspected for lead.

The number of Maryland children poisoned by lead fell to a new low again last year.

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