BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thousands of Maryland homes that were certified lead-free will now be subject to additional testing after state investigators found traces of lead in homes a private inspector said were safe.
The troubling discovery has parents frightened and a lawmaker calling for the state to take action and add more oversight to home inspections.READ MORE: Baltimore's Monument Lighting, In Its 50th Year, Returns Thursday
As WJZ’s Meghan McCorkell reports, advocates fear that hundreds of children living in homes that were improperly tested may have been needlessly exposed to lead poisoning, which causes a vast array of symptoms and has long term consequences.
“This bad player in the inspection process can actually lead to a child getting poisoned,” said advocate Ruth Ann Norton with the Green and Healthy Home Initiative, a nonprofit that educates people on sustainable living and hidden hazards inside their homes,
All it takes is the equivalent of three granules of sugar in leaded dust to poison a child, Norton said. In Maryland, lead poisons up to 3,200 children a year.
“It’s a big impact on neurological function, reading ability, hearing loss, speech delay, increased violent behavior, and aggressive behavior,” she said.READ MORE: Baltimore Fire Department's Train Garden Returns To Engine 45
India Austin, who was exposed to lead poisoning, acknowledged the symptoms have had a concrete impact on everything from her daily routine to job prospects to interpersonal relationships. “I cannot function right now,” said Austin. “I can never get a job. I take my anger out on everyone.”
Back in January, the state ordered retesting for more than 380 homes. Since then, that order has been expanded to include 1,600 rental properties — stretching from St. Mary’s City to Baltimore County.
So far in 2016, 80 homes in that scope have been retested. Two out of every five have tested positive for lead.
“A child who suffers with lead suffers damage for a lifetime,” said Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (D), Baltimore City, who is calling for the state to place more scrutiny on inspections.
“The state government needs to do its best to make sure that all properties that should be inspected are inspected, and that they’re inspected in accordance with the law,” Rosenberg said.MORE NEWS: Homicide Suspect Surrenders To Baltimore Police After Nearly 6 Hours
Officials said no children were living in the properties where lead was found during the second round of testing.