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Lead protections for children approved in legislative committee

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There is no safe level of lead exposure for childrensays the Atlanta-based CDC.

The lead protection bill stems from a legislative study committee that recommended changes last year. It also carries $1.8 million in funding for more inspectors and major state equipment.

Rustin said the agency would be able to hire 18 more senior inspectors statewide, bolstering a current staff of seven.

The focus of the bill is “the impact of lead on children’s lives,” Dempsey told GHN after the vote.

Lead poisoning can come from many sources, including water, paint, household dust, soil, and even some imported toys and candy.

Even at low levels, lead can damage children’s brains, reduce their intelligence and weaken their abilities for self-control and concentration, researchers have found. At higher levels, lead can affect growth and replace iron in the blood, causing anemia and fatigue.

Atlanta has recently experienced some highly publicized lead contamination situations.

The EPA is eliminating lead from the soil of dozens of properties in the English Avenue neighborhood of western Atlanta. Last week, the agency put the area on its list of national Superfund priorities for cleaning.

And soil near a metal processing plant in south Atlanta showed high levels of lead and other metals.

Voices for Georgia’s Children, an advocacy group, praised the lead safety legislation.

“We know that children, especially those under the age of 6, are at particular risk of lead poisoning, which can have long-term and in some respects permanent effects, including speech and language problems, learning disabilities and attention disorders, and even nerve damage,” said Polly McKinney, Advocacy Director for Voices.

Andy Miller is editor of Georgia Health News.