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Alarmed by inaction, Lead Free Philly Coalition rises–Press Release

Lead Free Philly Coalition Urges Quick Action from Council to Prevent Majority of 2,700 Annual Child Poisonings

New legislation would close ‘loophole’ in City’s lead laws that make enforcement almost impossible and compliance voluntary leaving children at risk

PHILADELPHIA (August 22, 2018) – Despite receiving key recommendations from the Mayor’s Advisory Group on Lead Poisoning over a year ago, City Council has not yet taken action to strengthen the City’s lead laws that would spare most of the 2,700 children who are poisoned every year from a lifetime of adverse health and social conditions, according to the newly formed Lead Free Philly Coalition.

The Lead Free Philly Coalition is composed of health organizations and clinicians, developers, housing advocates, families with children who were poisoned by lead, and PCCY, the region’s leading child advocacy organization that pushed for the City’s first lead laws to protect tenants in 2011.

However, the Lead Paint Disclosure Law only requires landlords renting properties to families with children age 6 and younger to get their units certified as lead-safe or lead-free. But, as it exists today, the law is in effect voluntary and largely unenforceable. That’s why the Coalition wants all rental units built before the 1978 lead paint ban came into effect to be required to receive certification.

“It’s been over a year since the Mayor received key recommendations from his Advisory Group on Lead Poisoning that included revisiting the existing legislation that doesn’t adequately protect kids,” said Colleen McCauley, PCCY’s Health Policy Director. “Meanwhile, every day, children are being poisoned by toxic lead paint in their own homes. Those kids need us to take action today.”

Aisha Stafford, mother of twin 4-year-old boys who were poisoned by lead paint, knows all too well the impact of child lead poisoning. Their story was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Toxic City series.

“We have to do everything we can to protect children from the toxic paint in their houses,” said Stafford. “Parents need to know the physical and behavioral effects of lead poisoning for some children can be a life sentence. There are no cures, but City Council can prevent the majority of cases by making all older rental properties get tested for lead.”

Dr. Kevin Osterhoudt, Medical Director at The Poison Control Center at CHOP, noted that 4 million homes in Philadelphia were built before 1977.  The aging housing stock means that the Center regularly receives calls from doctors and parents seeking expert help in managing children with lead poisoning.

“Lead is a burglar,” Dr. Osterhoudt said. “It creeps undetected within our homes and schools and steals from our children. Lead robs our children of their potential.”

The Lead Free Philly Coalition will be briefing members of City Council until Council sessions resume in September, urging action on some of the recommendations submitted by the Mayor’s Advisory Committee in June of last year.

The Coalition also launched an awareness campaign, encouraging city residents to print window signs that read, “Hey, City Hall, Get the Lead Out! #LeadFreePhilly”

The window sign can be found at: childrenfirstpa.org/leadfreephilly 

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