Delaware County ranks fifth in the Commonwealth for the highest number of children who are poisoned by lead, with an average of 250 children harmed each year. An estimated 81% of Delaware County houses and apartments were built before lead was finally banned in residential paint in 1978, which is a huge part of the problem.
Since 2008, Children First has facilitated the Delaware County Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition comprised of a cross-section of public and private entities that are very familiar with lead poisoning, public health, and housing. Since then, East Lansdowne adopted an ordinance requiring rental property owners and child care facilities on older properties to test for lead paint hazards and certify that their properties are lead safe. In addition, when residents sell their older properties, they will also need to get their home tested for lead. More municipalities are expected to follow suit.
The whole of Delaware County is also stepping up to the challenge. Quickly following the start of the new Delaware County Health Department in 2022, Melissa Lyon, the director of the new department, joined Children First and the Delaware County Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition in support of our Action Plan to Prevent Childhood Lead Poisoning in Delaware County by 2027. Among other recommendations, the Action Plan prioritizes testing homes and removing the lead so kids never get poisoned in the first place.