Legislators join Cruz in call for support of lead-testing legislation

HARRISBURG, March 22 – Citing the tragedy unfolding in Flint, Michigan, state Rep. Angel Cruz, D-Phila., was joined by a bipartisan group of legislators today calling for support of a legislation package that aims to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in Pennsylvania.

“It’s unfortunate that the events in Flint had to bring the dangers of lead poisoning to the forefront, but the danger is real and it’s impacting children in Pennsylvania,” Cruz said. “Numerous cities across Pennsylvania, including Allentown, Altoona, Easton, Erie, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, among others, are dealing with elevated blood lead levels in children at a higher rate than what we’ve seen in Flint. The risk of permanent damage to both their mental and physical health is too high to allow this to continue.”

The first piece of legislation to be introduced by Cruz, House Bill 1917, would require children under 6 to be tested for elevated lead levels in their blood. Currently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends children be tested at 1, 2 and again before 6.

“Out of over 1 million children in Pennsylvania under the age of 7, less than 15 percent were tested for lead exposure in 2014,” Cruz said. “As legislators, we must work to increase testing, especially considering that the damage from lead poisoning is most severe in children under the age of 7.”

The second piece of legislation, House Bill 1918, would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to require more frequent testing for lead in water. Under current law, water is tested every three years at a reduced number of sample sites after the initial passing. Cruz’s legislation would require testing to be done annually at the reduced number of sample sites and a complete test from all sample sites every three years.

The third piece of legislation, House Bill 1919 and sponsored by state Rep. Mike Schlossberg, D-Lehigh, would require lessors of residential dwellings built before 1978 to inspect dwellings for the presence of lead-based paint and hazardous conditions such as chipping paint when those dwellings become vacant or prior to new occupancy. Lessors must also disclose all information regarding levels of lead and inspection results, and provide those findings to a lessee prior to occupancy.

“There are thousands of homes across the state that have layers of lead paint present, possibly without tenants’ knowledge. Homeowners have the inspection process to give them peace of mind, but renters currently have no assurances about their residences,” Schlossberg said. “This is especially troubling for families with young children, who are most at risk to negative consequences due to lead exposure. Parents have the responsibility to protect their children, but that could only be done if they are informed. My legislation would give parents the information they need, by informing renters about any lead risks present in their homes so they can protect their children.”