News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 881-6309

Illinois Department of Public Health Approves New Lead Rules

On January 15, 2019, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules approved rules proposed by the Illinois Department of Public Health that will increase the number of children identified with lead poisoning and trigger earlier intervention.  The rules lower the level at which public health interventions are initiated for children with blood lead levels from 10 micrograms per deciliter to 5 micrograms per deciliter, the same lead reference level used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Under the new rules, children who test at or below the new intervention level will receive a home visit from a public health nurse who will educate families on ways to lower the blood lead level and reduce lead expose, including proper nutrition, hygiene, and housekeeping.  Public health environmental experts will also begin to inspect residences for all children with an elevated blood lead level of 5 micrograms per deciliter or greater to determine the potential sources of the child’s lead exposure as additional resources become available.  In addition to lowering the blood lead level at which health departments will conduct environmental inspections and case management, the rules reduce other lead environmental benchmarks including lead in dust and water.  The rules also propose increased enforcement authority for violations of the Lead Poisoning Prevention Act and Code.  This includes enforcement against property owners who fail to perform lead remediation on property where children with elevated blood lead levels live.  Additionally, the proposed rules increase the maximum fine for violators to encourage compliance with US EPA rules and impose penalties for returned checks or for insufficient payments.  This rulemaking also establishes the safest way for lead to be removed from homes and ensures that workers engaged in this work are appropriately remediating lead hazards and are not creating additional risks to residents.

As a result, property owners and manufacturers or other entities that are potential sources of lead exposure are now at a risk for increased enforcement by Illinois agencies.  According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, more than 7,000 children who were tested in 2017 had lead blood levels at or above 5 micrograms per deciliter.  This means that far more inspections of residences will occur and, therefore, there will be an increase in remediation that will likely be needed to be conducted by property owners.

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