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Wishing for lead-free homes

Here’s why we need to make a New Year’s Resolution to end childhood lead poisoning.

Childen in Philly were 25 times more likely to be poisoned by lead than injured in a car accident in 2014.  The odds they will be poisoned by lead is 337 higher than their being injured by a firearm or 9 times more likely than being hospitalized for a fall, based on data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Flint, Michigan made worldwide news when 5 percent of its children tested with high blood lead levels in the year that the city’s lead-contaminated water crisis occurred. But in certain neighborhoods in Philadelphia, high levels of lead were found in 40 to 50 percent of children screened, according to a groundbreaking investigative piece by Reuters.

And this isn’t just a Philadelphia problem. “Pennsylvania has a dubious distinction. The state contains the most individual census tracts – 1,100 in  all – where at least 10 percent of childhood lead tests were elevated over the last decade. In 49 different tracts, from inner city Philadelphia to capital Harrisburg, at least 40 percent of children tested had high lead” according the investigative report released this week by Reuters.

[Click here for Reuters’ interactive map where you can look up how your neighborhood fares.]

Philadelphia City Council recently acted by passing bills to protect children in schools and home-based child care centers, thanks to the leadership of woman on City Council.  The Mayor’s new plan that includes a push to restrict landlords’ licensing for failure to abide by the 2012 Lead Law is more welcome news.  So too is his Lead Task Force, which PCCY proposed, and will be included as a member.

It’s pretty clear that far too many children are suffering from lead poisoning.  And we know that the risk remains much greater than we imagined. Kudos to the Philadelphia Daily News/Inquirer and Reuters for their groundbreaking work.

Christmas wish or New Years Resolution: childhood lead poisoning prevention must certainly be on the agenda for a lot more people than ever.


While we may have a great success this year, there is still so much to do–and 2017 may be our most challenging year yet. We can’t do it without your support.

Make a gift to PCCY and help make the lives of children better today.


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“I need answers. We need resolve. Our school needs help. These kids need help. Parents are losing sleep, every day.”  Shereda Cromwell, mother of three children at Kenderton Elementary in North Philly. Concluding his five-part series, WHYY’s Kevin McCorry speaks with Pennsylvanians about whether Ontario’s public education success story is a model for PA. HEAR HERE!