The California State Legislature has approved a proposal by Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas aimed at ensuring that the state’s at-risk children will be appropriately tested for blood lead poisoning. More than 640,000 California children are at high risk for this pervasive problem.
Senate Bill 775 strengthens existing regulations requiring all children in public programs to be tested for blood lead poisoning and requires physicians to inform mothers-to-be about the dangers of lead and where to seek helpful information.
“With more and more reports regarding lead being found in toys and other consumer products, we must be diligent about ensuring that vulnerable children are screened and tested,” stated Ridley-Thomas after clearing its last legislative vote on Wednesday, August 20, with a Senate Concurrence vote of 21-12.

Despite state and federal mandates requiring blood lead tests for children enrolled in Medi-Cal and Child Health and Disability Prevention Programs, only 1 in 5 young children are being tested for blood lead poisoning.
Additionally, although blood lead tests for children are covered by private health care providers, a vast majority of insured children are not screened for lead poisoning. As a result, most children with elevated blood lead levels are not identified and, therefore, do not receive appropriate treatment or environmental intervention.
SB 775 also requires the State Department of Health Services to post pertinent information on its website and to provide an annual report to the Legislature and the public on the status of the state’s lead poisoning prevention programs; including the number of children screened and those determined to have elevated blood lead levels.
Once a child has been lead poisoned, it leads to irreversible damage to the human body; neurological damage; developmental delays; damage to the kidneys and central nervous system;, and, at very high levels, seizures, coma and death. Screening is the only effective way to detect risk of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is most common in children under the age of 6 because they engage in hand-to-mouth activities. They are particularly vulnerable because their brain and central nervous system are still forming. Exposure at very low levels can cause children to lose more than 7 I.Q. points.
SB 775 now heads to the Governor’s Office for consideration. The Governor has until Sept. 30 to sign the proposal into law.