Lead Exposure and Children: A Toxic Mix
Lead is toxic. There is no safe level of lead exposure – even the smallest amount can damage a child’s ability to learn – and children are most at-risk of lead’s toxicity. According to the Centers for Disease Control:
Children are commonly exposed to lead from hand-to-mouth activities involving contaminated dust and soils around older homes that contain lead-based paint or from eating paint chips that contain lead.
While lead-based paint is the most widespread source of lead exposure for young children, other sources can include water, consumer products such as toys, cosmetics or jewelry and home remedies such as folk medicines.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health has declared that the entire Commonwealth is “at risk” for lead exposure, and the Joint State Government Commission recently released a report and recommendations, which include requiring:
- Universal blood level testing for children
- Inspection and certification of child care centers and schools
- A statewide registry of lead safe rental housing
PPC is working with stakeholders to help create a lead-free environment for Pennsylvania children. The first step to understanding whether kids have been exposed is through testing blood lead levels; however, approximately 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s youngest children are not being tested. That’s why PPC is urging passage of a universal blood lead testing law and supports HB 79 in an effort to protect our children from lead poisoning and treat those who have been exposed to its harmful effects. Sign up for our enewsletter, “A Voice for Kids” to receive updates.
Additional Resources About Lead Exposure and Children
- PolicyMap: Lead Exposure Risk in Your Neighborhood
- U.S. PIRG: Trouble in Toyland 2019 report
- Joint State Government Commission report: Lead Exposure Risks and Response in Pennsylvania: Report of the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure
- Pennsylvania Department of Health: Lead Poisoning
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Lead Exposure and Lead Poisoning
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Lead
- HUD: Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts
Lead Exposure in the News
- Pennsylvania Capital Star: Universal lead testing touches ideological nerve in Pa. House panel debate
- Press Release: Wolf Announces Initiative for a Lead-Free Pennsylvania
- The Philadelphia Tribune: Act to abate lead poisoning in Pa.
- Pennlive: Holiday warning: Toys can kill, says Pa. Auditor General, medical professional
- Watch the Advisory Committee and Task Force on Lead Exposure’s Press Conference
- The Capital Star: Bipartisan senators want a ‘lead free environment’ for Pa.’s children
- The Guardian: ‘It was everywhere’: how lead is poisoning America’s poorest children
- WFMZ: Pa. to use million-dollar grant to test for lead in drinking water