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Health officials request funds to counteract lead poisoning

February 4, 2019

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) — Illinois health officials are requesting about $5 million more from the state to implement new rules aimed at identifying and caring for children under 6 years with lead poisoning.

The Illinois Department of Health received about $10 million this fiscal year to send nurses and inspectors into the homes of children who tested positive for lead poisoning, The Southern Illinoisan reported.

Under the rules, action is taken if five micrograms of lead is found in a deciliter of a child’s blood. Lead can cause behavioral problems, developmental delays and other health issues, experts said.

An additional 6,000 children could be eligible for environmental testing and medical care under the new rules, said Bob Palmer, a policy director for Housing Action Illinois, which advocates for safe and affordable housing.

“The rates of childhood lead poisoning in Illinois are high compared to other states , and the state in recent years has been making real progress in reducing childhood lead poisoning,” he said. “I think the rules that were just approved reflect a commitment to continuing to make progress.”

Lawmakers began reviewing the state’s standards in August to bring the rules in line with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rules also increase enforcement authority and penalties for violators of the state’s lead prevention laws, the department said.

Palmer noted that the changes won’t be effective unless the effort gets the financial resources it needs.

Funding discussions are expected to truly begin after Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveils his budget proposal on Feb. 20.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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