Philadelphia—The Philadelphia Department of Public Health is proud to announce the launch of a new lead exposure dashboard called the Childhood Lead Poisoning Surveillance Report. It provides up-to-date information on the lead exposure of children in Philadelphia. Although the incidence of lead exposure in our city has steadily declined, we still need to do more to protect our children.
Health Commissioner Dr Cheryl Bettigole said, “We have a historic opportunity in Philadelphia to end lead poisoning in children through the combination of the city’s lead certification requirements for rentals. , our expansion of home sanitation services to reach even children with low lead levels, so we can intervene before they reach more toxic levels, and help homeowners access financing for the lead remediation. Lead poisoning has lifelong consequences that are absolutely preventable. I am delighted to see the progress we have made so far and am committed to continuing this progress so that all of our children are protected from lead poisoning.
It is important to understand that lead can be harmful to children, even in small amounts. Lead in a child’s body can stunt growth and development, cause behavioral problems, damage hearing and speech, and create difficulty hearing and paying attention. Some of these health issues may never go away, preventing lead poisoning in the first place is the best answer.
One of the most important things we can do is make sure our children are properly screened for lead exposure. This means having them tested by their pediatrician at age one and again at age two. The sooner an exposure is identified, the sooner we can remediate any effects and protect them from further exposure.
A blood test is the best way to determine if a child has been exposed to lead. A blood lead level is the amount of lead in a child’s blood, measured in micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood (ug/dL). Blood lead levels of 3.5 mcg/dl or more are considered elevated by PDPH and, as of July 2022, PDPH has expanded home lead prevention and remediation services to all children with lead. blood lead level of 3.5 mcg/dl or higher.
The most common source of lead exposure in Philadelphia is lead paint and the dust it produces. Many homes built before 1978 have lead paint; when the paint cracks and peels, it creates dust that can be swallowed by children. Other less common sources of lead exposure include contaminated water and soil, as well as some traditional medicines, cosmetics, and jewelry.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health works to prevent lead poisoning by eliminating lead hazards, enforcing lead laws and regulations, and monitoring lead exposure in children. The Lead and Healthy Homes program, run by the Environmental Health Services Division, performs home inspections and remediation for income-eligible families. PDPH works with other city agencies to ensure that rental properties occupied by children are certified lead-free or lead-free.
Philadelphia’s Lead-Free and Safety Law requires homeowners to obtain a lead inspection and safety certification for properties where children under the age of six are present since 2011. In 2019, the law was passed. expanded to include all rental properties in Philadelphia, not just properties with children. Phased implementation of the law began in 2020 in ZIP codes with high rates of lead exposure and was implemented citywide in 2022. Homeowners are now required to obtain a lead certificate to obtain or renew a rental license for all properties. As of 2020, over 82,000 rental properties (representing over 95% of licensed rental properties) have been certified lead-free or lead-free.
The link to the Childhood Lead Poisoning Surveillance Report can be found here. More information on the dangers of lead can be found in the City’s Guide to Lead.