As a pediatrician and former medical director of the clinic caring for children with lead poisoning at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, I have seen the devastation of this preventable medical problem. Most of these children were exposed to lead by ingestion of lead-based paint chips and the resulting household dust found in older housing. More children could be detected with this problem if health care providers would screen young children with a blood lead test. The future promise lost to lead exposure is one of the greatest tragedies, as it is completely preventable -- still 8,000 Pa. kids each year are exposed and poisoned by lead paint.
Childhood lead poisoning should be a part of every health care provider’s consideration. The possible effects of lead poisoning can take a while to appear and once they do, they are irreversible. Most children are asymptomatic, so we don’t know they have too much lead in the body unless a blood lead test is done. There are no safe levels of lead poisoning. I’ve seen the long-term ramifications through developmental delays, decreased IQ levels, and long-term behavior problems.
I support the Lead Paint Promise Project’s goals to create a state fund for low-income homeowners and landlords to remove lead paint-based hazards in properties, guarantee all children get tested twice for lead at ages one and two and ensure all poisoned children are referred to Early Intervention services. I urge Governor Wolf and all state legislators to support these goals and protect kids.