Lead Poisoning Notification

RCED-94-18R: Published: Oct 14, 1993. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 1993.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on lead poisoning and the effectiveness of local health agencies' notification to public housing authorities (PHA) of children diagnosed with elevated blood levels (EBL). GAO found that: (1) of the six local health agencies reviewed, five do not timely notify PHA when they identify EBL children living in public housing containing lead-based paint hazards; (2) San Francisco has the only local health agency that coordinates its efforts with its PHA; (3) although PHA are responsible for removing lead-based paint hazards from public housing, the average time between identification of EBL children and PHA notification is 2 months; (4) PHA could not take any actions to address potential problems because of notification delays; (5) notification delays occur because of state or local procedures that require prenotification testing and the inordinate amount of time required to complete home testing; (6) although the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently encouraged lead poisoning prevention organizations to develop systems that will expedite testing and ensure more timely notification, local health agencies have not been advised to change their notification procedures; and (7) without timely notification, PHA cannot reduce children's exposure to lead-based paint hazards.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: PHS/CDC sent letters on June 23, 1993, and November 19, 1993 to state and local grant recipients advising them of the need for immediate notification of PHA when a resident child is diagnosed with elevated blood levels.

    Recommendation: Given the important health consequences when EBL children remain exposed to lead-based paint hazards, the Assistant Secretary for Health, Public Health Service, should strengthen local coordination procedures by directing CDC to advise state and local health agencies to immediately notify PHA when children living in public housing are diagnosed with elevated blood lead levels.

    Agency Affected: Department of Health and Human Services: Public Health Service: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health


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