Expand Child Lead Testing

September 23, 2022. ODH draft rules undermine child lead testing. Today, Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing has responded to a request for comments on draft regulations related to childhood lead testing from the Ohio Department of Health. Lead safety advocates around the country were excited when the CDC lowered the Blood Reference Value from 5 micrograms/deciliter down to 3.5 mg/dl. Think of the CDC Blood Reference Value as the point at which public health officials and health providers should begin treatment and pursue preventive measures with children. 

     There's just one catch to the CDC standard: the individual states (and some municipalities) need to adopt the new CDC standard. On August 24, 2022, the Ohio Department of Health issued a draft administrative rule that is WORSE than the current rule. Instead of following CDC's guidance and lowering the threshold for action to 3.5mg/dl, the draft administrative rule creates a new class of children  who test between 3.5mg/dl and 10 mg/dl as "elevated blood lead level" and then redefines "lead poisoned" from 5mg/dl to 10mg/dl and above. The net effect is that more children who are identified with lead exposure will still receive no onsite inspections of their homes to identify the sources of lead poisoning.

Read the CLASH comments in full.

Read the #1 Request for Comments re Lead Screening and Assessment

Meanwhile surrounding states are requiring Universal Child Lead Testing

October 3, 2023. Detroit Free Press. Universal lead testing requirement landmark moment for Michigan, advocates say. "Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Tuesday that requires all 1- and 2-year-olds in Michigan to be tested for lead exposure, something advocates say is the biggest moment in 45 years to end lead poisoning. [   ] Currently, children enrolled in Medicaid must undergo testing for lead poisoning. But beginning next year, physicians treating any minor must test the minor for lead poisoning or order a lead poisoning test at 12 and 24 months. If they have no record of a previous test, they must be tested between 24 and 72 months. All four year-olds in Michigan must be tested if they live in a part of the state where they face increased risk for childhood lead poisoning. Minors must also be tested at regular intervals if they face high risk for lead poisoning such as living in a home built before 1978 or living with other minors diagnosed with lead poisoning."

Indiana requires universal testing as of January 1, 2023.

JANUARY 13, 2022. The Land. Why has childhood lead testing plummeted in Cleveland, and what can be done about it? "Sadly, however, testing has declined. For this, it would be easy to blame Covid-19, said Yvonka Hall, executive director of Cleveland Lead Advocates for Safe Housing (CLASH). The closure of schools and daycares during the pandemic resulted in more children being at home, increasing the risk of lead exposure. Additionally, the pandemic made it harder to test kids, since many testing sites were closed and primary care visits were virtual."

CLASH Position paper: Expand Child Lead Testing

January 2022

The problem

Child lead testing in Cleveland has dropped dramatically since 2017. While many experts have claimed that the decrease in child lead testing was due to “the pandemic,” it is clear from the chart below that the numbers of children being tested was decreasing before 2020. 

Possible barriers to increasing the rate of child lead testing.

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