Preventing Childhood Lead Exposure in Pennsylvania
Lead exposure in childhood can lead to future learning disabilities, poor school performance, behavior issues, and problems with impulse control.
In Pennsylvania, nearly 9,000 young children suffer from lead poisoning each year. Lead exposure in childhood can lead to future learning disabilities, poor school performance, behavior issues, and problems with impulse control. These issues can lead to juvenile and adult crime, making lead exposure prevention a priority for law enforcement.
Children are more at risk for the damaging effects of lead than adults because children’s bodies absorb more lead and their brains and nervous systems are more susceptible to damage from lead poisoning. While the severity of symptoms can depend on the level of lead in a child’s blood, there is no safe level of lead exposure in children.
In Pennsylvania, the main source of lead poisoning is lead-based paint. This type of paint was not banned for residential use until 1978, and Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the country for old housing, with 70 percent of residential units having been built prior to 1980. This high potential for lead exposure has a significant impact on the children in our state, and disproportionately impacts children of color and those in low-income families.
One way to prevent children from being exposed to lead is remediation, which is designed to eliminate lead hazards in a home. By implementing lead remediation practices and increasing testing rates for lead poisoning in young children, we can prevent Pennsylvania’s children from being exposed to lead and ensure that they are healthier and less likely to be involved in the justice system later in life.
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