|Hometown Leadership on Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention
“When I found out, I cried – a lot. I felt completely responsible.”
Delco mom Andrea White felt such despair when she learned her two young children were poisoned by lead paint, and she is speaking out to encourage every parent to have their homes tested for lead hazards.
Concerned about the children’s unusual behavioral issues, Andrea’s pediatrician had ordered a full panel of blood work, including testing for lead. Because of the doctor’s quick thinking, and initiative, Andrea’s kids are getting intervention services to help manage the lingering impact of their lead poisoning.
Pennsylvania was on track to pass legislation this week calling for all children to be tested for lead by the time they turn two years old, which would be a huge win for parents who may not suspect their children are at risk. Unfortunately, the testing requirement was removed in a last-minute amendment but the Childhood Blood Lead Test Act finally requires private insurance companies to cover a lead test for children under two years old, and directs the PA Department of Health to mount a statewide public awareness campaign.
Counties and municipalities are stepping up too. In Norristown, more than 1,000 properties have been certified lead safe this year since the municipality passed a law requiring lead paint inspections for all rental properties, child care centers, condemned buildings, and properties for sale (for buildings built before 1978).
In Philadelphia, 95% of older, licensed rental properties – or 82,000 properties – have been certified as lead free or lead safe, a 1,700% increase in the number of certified properties compared to just four years ago.
Delaware County is also stepping up to the challenge. Melissa Lyon, the director of the new Delaware County Health Department, joined Children First and our Delaware County Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition as we released 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.
Releasing the Action Plan is just the beginning of a long-term collaboration with the county health department to eliminate lead hazards. Delco ranks fifth in the Commonwealth for the highest number of children who are poisoned by lead, primarily because 81% of its housing stock likely has lead paint. Six times more children who are Black and Hispanic are poisoned than White children because they are more likely to live in older properties with deteriorated lead-based paint.
Lead paint poisoning is entirely preventable. These steps happening in the state and the region will save lives today and for generations to come.