Monday, March 06, 2006

Rep. Harry Osterman
Phone: (773) 784-2002
(217) 782-8088

Osterman Passes Bill to Protect Children from Lead Poisoning

SPRINGFIELD – Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Harry Osterman, D-Chicago, to prevent Illinois children from becoming lead poisoned passed the House Friday. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois currently leads the nation in number of cases of lead poisoned children.

“Lead poisoning poses a serious health threat to the children of Illinois and we must increase our commitment to protect them,” Osterman said. “This bill identifies strategies to reduce the high incidences of lead poisoning by warning parents and the general public about the dangers of lead paint, requiring products children use, eat, or wear be lead free, and inspecting the dwelling units of the young children who screen positive.”

House Bill 4853 would require retailers, stores or commercial establishments that sell paint or paint supplies to post a warning statement or brochure to warn people of lead poisoning. The statement or brochure shall contain information about the proper removal of lead paint, the primary causes of lead poisoning and contact information to obtain additional information.

Childcare providers will be required to annually send information regarding lead poisoning home to parents. Osterman’s measure calls on the Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services to share information with the Dept. of Public Health that will help the state better serve children in high risk areas.

Additionally, the legislation would require the Department of Public Health to inspect the dwelling units of any child less than three years old who screens positive for lead poisoning. Lower levels of lead in the blood would now require a home inspection. When two or more units of a building are inspected within a five year time frame, the department would be required to inspect common areas in the building and all units where children under the age of six reside.

The offices of the Attorney General and the State’s Attorney , under Osterman’s legislation, would be asked to annually report to the General Assembly the number of lead poisoning cases that have been referred by the department.

“The Howard Area Community Center is part of a community-wide effort to eliminate lead poisoning in Rogers Park,” said Roberta Buchanan, Executive Director for the Howard Area Community Center. “Lead poisoning continues to affect the health and potential of children in this community. Prevention is essential. This legislation proposed by Rep. Osterman will help to address the problem before children are affected. We are in full support of it.”

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, over 13,000 children tested positive for lead poisoning in 2004. National surveys estimate that one in six children under the age of seven has lead poisoning.

House Bill 4853 passed the House and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

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