Lead poisoning: the warning for parents & the actions being taken in Harrisburg

Lead poisoning is well-known but the dangers for young children tend to slip under the radar. I want to make sure parents and caregivers know the risks and are aware of the actions being taken in Harrisburg to ensure their child’s safety.

Just recently, I was glad to see Gov. Tom Wolf join in my fight to bring the concern to the forefront. The startling statistics speak for themselves. For kids, the Pa. Department of Health says lead can:

  • Cause coma, convulsions, and even death;

  • Create learning difficulties;

  • Interfere with growth;

  • Harm hearing; and

  • Delay development

Those facts are frightening for any parent to hear, especially for those who aren’t even aware the safety hazards exist.

Gov. Wolf is echoing my push for universal blood testing for children under the age of 2 across the state. He is seeking analysis to determine who is at risk for lead poisoning and where kids with the highest and lowest blood-lead levels live. This effort mirrors legislation (H.B. 666) I introduced earlier this year, and with the governor’s help, I’m confident it will make traction in the legislature. 

This latest action is crucial considering the results of a recent report by our health department, showing only 28 percent of children, aged 0-23 months, were tested for lead in 2015. That means the other 72 percent could be at risk for health problems and not even know it.

I am also pushing to increase lead testing in:

  • Drinking water; (H.B. 667)

  • Daycares; (H.B. 669) and

  • Older rental properties where lead paint was likely used. (H.B. 668)

The frustrating part for me is the research is out there, yet, the state still lags in taking the proper preventative steps to combat the issue. With the governor in our corner, I am optimistic change is on the horizon and our children will have a fighting chance against lead poisoning.

Residents with questions or concerns are encouraged to call the toll-free Lead Information Line at 1-800-440-LEAD, or go online to www.health.pa.gov and search lead on the home page.