“People are going to keep getting poisoned until the nation fully addresses its lead-infused infrastructure.” This quote comes from a recent New Republic story that shows how pervasive lead is in paint, pipes, and properties, especially in poor neighborhoods or communities of color, and highlights the failure of federal agencies to keep children safe.
Pennsylvania also has a lead poison problem. Rural Pennsylvania. Suburban Pennsylvania. Urban Pennsylvania. It’s a problem that many people thought went away when lead-based paint was banned in the U.S. back in the 1970s. But sadly, about 9,000 children in the commonwealth are poisoned by lead every year, most of them by lead paint still in their homes or apartments. In and around Philadelphia the problem is worse than it was in Flint!
With federal agencies dropping the ball, and state commitment lagging, last week our Delaware Lead Poisoning Prevention Coalition and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon hosted an information-packed workshop to help Delaware County municipal managers be lead poisoning prevention allies. And they responded enthusiastically.
Many municipal managers agreed to use their professional networks to get the word out about two federal programs that help qualified landlords and homeowners with home repairs, including lead removal. We also asked them to review the laws and codes already on the books in their municipality to direct code enforcement officers to be the eyes, ears, and enforcers to protect children. This novel approach could be a game changer for kids and build bridges to new partnerships in our efforts to end lead poisoning.
P.S. – A special shoutout to State Representative Elizabeth Fiedler! At PCCY’s request, she raised the issue that there is no dedicated state funding to eradicate lead hazards to the Secretary of the Department of Community and Economic Development during a budget hearing yesterday.