Illinois Department of Public Health officials are asking state lawmakers for millions of dollars to be added to the department's budget next year to comply with more stringent lead intervention requirements.
The department announced in August last year that it would cut the threshold of lead blood levels to five micrograms per deciliter, down from ten. That means a child can have much less lead in his or her blood before the state would be required to initiate a public health intervention in the home.
Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike told the House Appropriations, Human Services Committee on Friday that the change will mean more interventions and require more funding to respond.
“That’s going to increase multiple-fold the number of people who will have that positive level, who will have that need of intervention, both abatement and treatment,” she said.
The department requested $6 million more from the state’s General Revenue Fund to pay for the increase in interventions and subsequent additional training.
The amount is small in relation to the department's overall $641 million budget. About half of that is federally-funded, with another 30 percent coming from dedicated state funds that can only be spent in specific ways.
Recent legislation passed into law now requires schools and daycares to sample for lead contamination in water as well.