Monday, 23 September 2019

Bill protecting children from dangerous lead exposure approved by governor

SACRAMENTO – Legislation authored by Sen. Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) to help ensure that children at risk of lead exposure receive blood lead screening tests was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Earning bipartisan support in the Legislature prior to being signed into law, SB 1041 requires the California Department of Public Health 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.

Federal law and state regulations currently require that children receiving Medi-Cal benefits be tested for lead at 12 and 24 months of age.

“Once implemented, SB 1041 will empower and inform physicians and parents about the dangers of lead exposure so that they can help protect children and families,” Sen. Leyva said. “Kids can sometimes be unknowingly exposed to lead through a variety of sources, including toys, drinking water and even paint. Any level of lead exposure in children is dangerous and SB 1041 will help parents know the importance of kids receiving a blood lead level screening test as a precautionary measure. This bill will help to promptly diagnose and treat children exposed to lead in our local communities.”

An 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.

Children in at least 4 million U.S. households are exposed to high levels of lead, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC reports that 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.

Cosponsored by EWG and the Coalition of California Welfare Rights Organizations, SB 1041 was supported by many organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics / California, Association of Regional Center Agencies, California League of Conservation Voters, California State PTA, California Teachers Association, Children Now, Children’s Advocacy Institute, Children’s Defense Fund, Clean Water Action, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, Healthy Black Families Inc, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California and Western Center on Law and Poverty.

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