Although it is entirely preventable, childhood lead poisoning remains a stubbornly intractable health problem in southeastern Pennsylvania – particularly in Philadelphia. We are pleased to report that thousands fewer children in Philadelphia have been harmed by lead over the last decade – in part because of PCCY’s and our partners’ steadfast efforts to raise public awareness, change housing and health policies and facilitate the passage of a new Philadelphia law.
Across suburban southeast PA, at least 50% of homes were built before 1978 when lead-based paint was banned for residential use (a range of 52% in Chester County to 83% in Delaware County). Across the nation the number one source of lead poisoning is lead-based paint in children’s homes. Consequently, lead paint-based hazards in thousands of homes may be poisoning children. Unfortunately, too few children are tested for lead poisoning – a range of 9% to 19% of young children in 2012. If children aren’t tested, their blood lead levels remain unknown.
County leaders should identify and utilize local and federal funds to test children’s homes for lead hazards and remediate them, educate parents about lead poisoning and screen more children for lead.
Click here for a summary of the Bottom Line Health Reports – Learn more about the state of children’s health across Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties.
Click on the links below for the full reports in all four counties.
- Bucks – Only 10% of Bucks County children under six received screenings for lead poisoning in 2012.
- Chester – More than half of Chester County houses may contain lead, but only nine percent of children received screenings for lead poisoning in 2012.
- Delaware – Delaware County had the highest share of children screened for lead in 2012 (19%) than in any suburban county.
- Montgomery – More than two-thirds of Montgomery County houses may contain lead, however, only 14% of children received screenings for lead poisoning in 2012.
PCCY initiated a successful two year campaign that resulted in Philadelphia City Council passing a law in December 2011 requiring landlords to test their properties for lead hazards to prove they are lead-safe and help protect young tenants from lead poisoning.
At the time the law was passed, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health reported that 55% of properties that poison Philadelphia children were rental properties. The city’s Property Maintenance Code requires landlords to maintain their properties free of lead-based paint hazards, and many did but too many did not. Philadelphia is an old city with 95% of its housing stock built before 1978 when lead-based paint was banned for residential use. Consequently, many homes in the city have the potential to poison children.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health maintains a webpage with detailed information regarding the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in terms of this law – which includes an informational document for tenants and a guide for landlords. Click here to view these documents and several others.
Click here to view a copy of the Philadelphia’s lead law.
PCCY has chronicled the status of childhood lead poisoning in Philadelphia and the city’s progress towards prevention in a series of comprehensive reports.
- A Report on Childhood Lead Poisoning in Philadelphia
- This report chronicles the progress the city made since PCCY published our first report in 2002 including the “campaign for change” undertaken by PCCY and other advocates to push for the creation of the Lead Abatement Strike Team and Lead Court that aided in bringing increased federal funding into Philadelphia and significant expansion of primary prevention programs such as Lead Safe Babies.
- Philadelphia government re-focused and re-organized its efforts on primary lead poisoning prevention programs and activities – to keep children from ever getting lead poisoning in the first place. This report highlights the expansion and outcomes of the successful Lead Safe Babies program that targets pregnant women and families with newborns to test their properties for lead hazards and remove them before the baby is exposed.
- In a short period of time, the Philadelphia Lead Court made a dramatic impact on increasing the number of properties made lead-safe in the city and, consequently, on decreasing the number of children poisoned. This report describes some of the court’s outcomes and challenges accompanying the court’s progress – in particular the continuing lack of adequate funding to ensure that all properties are remediated.