Officials may not have responded specifically to public questions yesterday about why the state’s online “Lead Rental Registry” is missing from the Maryland Department of the Environment website.
But they are summoning the media to talk about the subject of lead paint hazards in general.
A day after the missing search tool grabbed attention from advocates online and prompted a query and news story from this website, MDE announced a press event on Monday titled, “Maryland highlights ways to keep children safe from lead.”
Attending the media event will be MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles and deputy secretaries from the Maryland health and housing departments. Also named as a scheduled attendee is Ruth Ann Norton, president and CEO of the Green & Health Homes Initiative.
They will be appearing in Baltimore County at the home of a woman whose two-year-old son tested positive for high lead levels in his blood.
“Media event at the home of a Dundalk family that experienced lead poisoning and utilized available resources to remediate their home for their children’s safety,” the release begins.
Noting that October 24-30 is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, the announcement reminds Marylanders of the importance of getting children tested for possible exposure to lead.
“Resources are available to help protect families,” the release says. “Significant progress has been made in reducing illnesses, but one case is one too many. ”
The comments from tenant advocate Carol Ott and others yesterday and The Brew story did not address the overall question of state and city efforts to reduce exposure to the toxic effects of lead paint.
The narrow issue was the absence of the registry – which allowed the public to see if a Maryland property had complied with requirements to register with the state and show whether it is safe from lead-paint hazards.
Ott noticed, and The Brew verified, that the user-friendly registry search-box was gone. Yesterday, we asked MDE about that, as well as the fact that the annual Childhood Blood Lead Surveillance reports, posted online, stop after 2019.
We renewed our request for information today and have not, as yet, received a reply.
UPDATE: MDE spokesman Jay Apperson emailed The Brew late this afternoon with a response to our questions.
“The searchable database of addresses was not working properly. We are working to fix that problem and to restore access to the database from our website. The database was moved to an updated server. The public search link was expected to work but it did not. Again, we are working to fix that problem and to restore access to the database from our website.”
In regards to the annual reports, Apperson said the page we pointed to “does not indicate the state has stopped producing annual reports on Childhood Blood Lead Surveillance.”
“It is up-to-date to the most recently issued annual report, for calendar year 2019, issued in October 2020. The annual report for calendar year 2020 is in the works.”
UPDATE #2: Apperson reports that the searchable database is back online here:
From this page, it is reachable through the link in the upper left: Rental Registry Property Search.