LEAD POISONING: DHS Sued Over Failure to Screen Kids
A group of public interest lawyers filed a lawsuit yesterday against the Department of Health Services, alleging that the agency's failure to issue regulations requiring screening for lead poisoning has caused thousands of children to go untreated, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In 1993, the state's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Act required officials to establish a program that would test all California children for lead poisoning. But the plaintiffs argue that the rules have yet to be implemented. While the health department did draft regulations, they have been held up in litigation over who would pay for the screenings. In the meantime, the state maintains a policy requiring every child on Medi-Cal or welfare to receive a blood test for lead poisoning at ages one and two. State health officials estimate that 40,000 children have been poisoned by lead, but according to plaintiff attorney Mark Savage, only 3,500 of those children have been identified due to the lack of screening. Jeanne Finberg, a Bay Area Legal Aid attorney representing two parents in the suit, said: "Housing in San Francisco is hot with lead. Failure to test is allowing thousands of children to be poisoned every day. The Legislature has declared lead poisoning to be the No. 1 environmental health risk for our children. We must act today" (Finz, 6/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.