Lead poisoning prevention

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Lead damages your brain.  It can hurt anyone but it is more likely to injure children under six. Because lead paint tastes sweet, children will eat it even when you are not looking.  And lead is everywhere around us: dusty window sills, peeling paint chips, contaminated soil.  Lead poisoning in children can cause learning disabilities, behavior problems, impaired memory and reduced intelligence. Lead poisoning also poses a serious risk to pregnant women.

Right now in Philadelphia City Council there is a Lead Poisoning Prevention Bill, #100011, sponsored by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. Bill #100011 attempts to ensures that rental properties that are to be occuppied by children under six in the City of Philadelphia are certified as lead safe or lead free before being rented out.  Landlords of these properties will be required to obtain certification stating that their property is lead-safe or lead-free before entering into a new lease with a tenant. Unforturnately, it is unclear whether this legislation as is it currently worded violates federal and locall laws against family status discrimination.

Despite years of progress, there are still more than 1,000 children in Philadelphia each year who suffer the irreparable harm of lead poisoning because of exposure to deteriorated lead paint and lead dust in their homes. Thousands more children, particularly low income and minority children, are at risk of lead exposure.  In Philadelphia, more than half of these children are living with their families in rental units.  

So be sure to check old windows and damaged walls for peeling paint.  Keep window sills clean anet a lead paint test kit from a local hardware store for a few dollars to see if you can find lead in your home.  If you do find lead, call your landlord right away or scrape and paint yourself.  Don’t wait for your child or a young visitor to get poisoned before taking action.

We must take the necessary measures to protect our children from lead poising and ensure that the home they live in will not cause them irreparable harm. For more information on federal lead paint laws visit the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning.See the proposed Philadelphia lead paint law here.


EXPOSED LEAD PAINT IS AGAINST THE LAW. The Property Maintenance Code requires landlords to repair peeling or chipping paint of any kind. Federal and local laws also require landlords to notify you of any history of lead problems, but don’t rely on that. If your landlord refuses to fix damaged walls or windows call the Philadelphia Department of Licenses & Inspections at 311 to get a free inspection.