Senator Leyva: Protect Children from Dangerous Lead Exposure

According to CDC, Any Lead in Children’s Blood Can Endanger Their Health

Monday, February 12, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) that recommits the State of California to ensuring that all children at risk of lead exposure receive blood lead screening tests was introduced in the California State Senate late last week.  

SB 1041 specifically requires the California Department of Public Health (DPH) to annually notify health care providers and, in turn, parents about the risks and effects of lead exposure and of the requirement that all Medi-Cal enrolled children be tested for lead.  Current federal law and state regulations require children receiving Medi-Cal benefits be tested for lead at 12 and 24 months of age.  However, a recent analysis of Medi-Cal billing data by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows that, between 2012 and 2016, nearly three-fourths of Medi-Cal enrolled children were not tested for lead exposure.

“The presence and effects of lead exposure remains a serious issue for children and families across California.  Children are often unknowingly exposed to lead through a variety of sources, such as lead-based paint, drinking water, and contaminated soil,” Senator Leyva said. “We must ensure that parents in the Inland Empire and throughout California know how lead exposure can harm their children’s health and that their kids should receive a blood lead level screening test as a precautionary health measure.  SB 1041 will help to promptly diagnose and treat children exposed to lead in our local communities, since any level of lead exposure in children is dangerous.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children in at least 4 million U.S. households are exposed to high levels of lead.  The CDC reports that there is no safe blood lead level in children and even the smallest amount of lead in children can cause mental and physical disorders such as attention deficit issues, brain damage, and delayed body growth.

“California must do better to protect children from the dangerous effects of lead exposure. Low testing rates are compounded by the fact that children enrolled in Medi-Cal are seven times more likely to be lead-poisoned than children from higher-income families,” said Susan Little, Senior Advocate at Environmental Working Group.

SB 1041 is a companion measure to AB 2122 authored by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) which requires the California Department of Health Care Services to ensure children enrolled in Medi-Cal receive blood lead screening tests at 12 and 24 months of age, as well as issue an annual report detailing the department’s progress toward blood lead level screening for all enrolled children.