OAKLAND (KRON) — A state assemblyman from the East Bay is pushing to have all young children in California tested for lead exposure.
Recent studies have shown that in some parts of the Bay Area, as much as 7 percent of children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. Left untreated, exposure can result in learning disabilities and long-term health problems.
Currently, in California, only kids who are receiving some sort of government assistance are required to be tested for lead exposure, but under a new bill introduced by assemblyman Bill Quirk of Hayward, all kids between 6 months and 6 years of age would be tested.
AB-1316 would change California’s health and safety code to require all kids in California to be tested for lead exposure.
Previous attempts at similar bills have failed because such testing would be expensive, and at the time, there didn’t appear to be a need for it. But, in recent years, the dangers of lead exposure have become apparent in places like Flint, Michigan.
Many spots in California and the Bay Area have also seen a large number of kids with elevated blood lead levels.
“This universal lead testing bill would help to prevent children from falling through the cracks,” Director of Operations at Alameda County Healthy Homes Department Larry Brooks said.
The Alameda County Healthy Homes Department works with families who are dealing with lead exposure.
They believe broad testing would help their departments reach more kids who are at risk.
“This would give us some advance notice as far as cluster areas that we could then approach those communities and talk to the residents about child lead poisoning prevention,” Brooks said.
Brooks also says that even though testing all children might be expensive, he believes it will help them avoid long-term treatment for problems related to exposure.
“When you can find a child and you can prevent them from being lead poisoned, you’re actually saving money,” Brooks said.
The bill was introduced into the assembly last month. It is currently in committee.
At this point, it’s unclear what it would cost to test all kids in California or who would pay for it.