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Last Updated: 04/12/2018


 Article of Interest - Lead Poisoning

State Senator to Unveil Lead-Testing Plan

by Emilia Askari, Detriot Free Press, February 17, 2003

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Every Michigan child who lives in or spends substantial time in a house built before 1978 would be tested for lead poisoning under legislation state Sen. Hansen Clarke, D-Detroit, plans to introduce within the next few weeks.

Clarke said he will announce details of his plan today at a rally organized by environmental and community activists concerned about lead poisoning.

A lead-testing bill is the first in a 10-point list of demands activists are making of local and state officials to reduce lead poisoning. Others include enacting local ordinances requiring lead testing of all rental housing, and posting instructions on how to treat lead-contaminated surfaces at paint and hardware stores.

"We will serve as citizen watchdogs to see that these proposals are enacted," said Rhonda Anderson of the Detroit Environmental Justice Community Committee of Sierra Club, the rally's chief organizer.

Lead poisoning can lead to brain damage that gives children attention disorders, reduces their ability to learn and can make them prone to violent behavior.

Carolyn Truitt, a legislative aide to Clarke, is all too familiar with those symptoms. Her son Jason, 14, had a blood-lead level of 75 micrograms per deciliter when he was 2. The federal government considers a child lead poisoned when the blood-lead level reaches 10 micrograms per deciliter.

It took five years of painful shots to bring Jason's blood-lead level down below 10. But the damage was done, his mother said she believes.

"He has moments when he cannot control his temper," Truitt said Wednesday. "If someone says something he doesn't like, he'll punch a wall. He'll cuss. It's sad."

Currently, all Michigan children on Medicaid and all children in Detroit are supposed to be tested for lead poisoning by their physicians -- but too often this does not occur. A test costs about $11, Clarke said, and often is the only way to confirm whether a child has a dangerously high lead level.

Today's rally is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. in front of an abandoned Continental Aluminum factory on Algonquin between Jefferson and Kercheval in Detroit. The third in a City of Detroit series of meetings to educate parents and others about lead poisoning and provide free lead testing for children is planned for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at St. Christopher Church, 7800 Woodmont, Detroit.

Contact EMILIA ASKARI at 313-223-4461 or  Staff writer Wendy Wendland-Bowyer contributed to this report.

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