Elevated lead levels in kids said to fall in '07

June 13, 2008

The number and percentage of Baltimore children with elevated levels of lead in the blood continued to decline last year, state and city health officials reported yesterday.

Overall, 624 children, or 3.5 percent of those tested, had lead levels greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter, compared with 4.6 percent in 2006, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment. Thanks to lead abatement programs and education, the proportion has been declining steadily since 1998, when it was 22 percent.

On the down side, 85 children suffered from lead levels of 20 micrograms or more, compared with 69 the previous year.

"The 2007 data show overall progress ... [but also show] a small but significant rise in children with higher lead levels," Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the city's health commissioner, said in a statement. "The data underscore the need to do more to eliminate lead poisoning."

The city Health Department offers free lead testing to children younger than 6 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays on the second floor of 312 N. Charles St.

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