New Legislation Protects Children from Lead Poisoning

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New Legislation Protects Children from Lead Poisoning

Sacramento, CA – Assemblymembers Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-Grand Terrace) and Senator Connie Leyva unveiled a package of bills to protect the millions of children who have been failed by the state's health departments and exposed to dangerous amounts of lead.  

 

In January 2020, the State Auditor released a report that found millions of children in Medi-Cal are not receiving the proper lead tests and that the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is not prioritizing the prevention of lead poisoning. State law requires that children enrolled in Medi-Cal receive tests for elevated lead levels between the ages of one and two years old.

 

“This issue has plagued underserved communities, with some areas in the Central Valley experiencing lead rates double than those found in Flint, Michigan,” said Assemblymember Salas. “Today’s bill package will improve health conditions for our children by ensuring that everyone is tested and exposure to lead is eliminated.”

 

When the State Auditor's Office reviewed data maintained by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), they found that the rate of eligible children receiving the proper lead tests was less than 27 percent. Without these tests, health care providers do not know whether these children are suffering from elevated lead levels and need treatment. Lead exposure and lead poisoning are associated with serious health impacts, especially to children.

 

The bill package introduced today includes the following solutions to these issues:

 

AB 2278 (Quirk) requires labs to report contact information and unique identifiers with children’s lead test results so that no children who have been lead exposed fall through the cracks from receiving state services to abate their lead exposure sources.

 

AB 2279 (Garcia) updates the risk factors for lead exposure that health care providers must use to determine whether children are at risk of lead exposure.

 

AB 2276 (Reyes) requires DHCS to prepare provider training guidelines, curriculum and resources to educate providers about childhood lead poisoning prevention, exposure risks, health effects, and sources of exposure, and requires DHCS to ensure that children in specified age groups receive blood lead screening tests. 

 

AB 2277 (Salas) requires DHCS to notify parents/legal guardians about lead testing requirements for children who missed required lead screening tests. The bill would also require certain health plans to identify children who have not received lead tests and notify providers.

 

SB 1008 (Leyva) requires CDPH to create an online lead information registry that allows the public to determine the lead inspection and abatement status for properties.

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Assemblymember Salas represents part of the City of Bakersfield, the cities of Arvin, Hanford, Corcoran, Delano, Lemoore, McFarland, Shafter, Wasco, and the communities of Armona, Avenal, Buttonwillow, Home Garden, Kettleman City, Lamont, Lost Hills, Stratford and Weedpatch.