DeLissio supports legislative plans for expanded lead testing

HARRISBURG, Sept. 20 – State Rep. Pamela A. DeLissio, D-Montgomery/Phila., serving as minority chair of the House Children and Youth Committee, said that all pregnant women and children in Pennsylvania should receive blood tests to detect lead poisoning. The committee is scheduled to vote on a bill addressing the issue this week.

During remarks at a Capitol news conference, she said that S.B. 522 encourages childhood blood-lead level testing in the ongoing fight against early childhood lead poisoning and would mandate testing for this vulnerable portion of Pennsylvania’s population.

“Exposure to lead and its effects are especially dangerous to children and are irreversible and severe. No amount of lead is safe.

“Through simple measures, childhood lead exposure is preventable, yet the effects of lead poisoning may be permanent. If caught early, however, there are things parents can do,” DeLissio said.  

Based on the Department of Health’s most recent Childhood Lead Surveillance Annual Report, only 30% of Pennsylvania children younger than 2 were screened for blood lead levels in 2018. Additionally, only 19% of children younger than 6 have been tested. However, health care professionals believe that all children may be at risk – based on exposure in their homes or relatives’ homes, in care and educational facilities, or in playgrounds, among other areas.

DeLissio said that recent discussions and research demonstrate that universal lead testing is a practical and effective protective measure to reduce instances of lead poisoning.

“Other states have already passed similar laws, so it’s important that Pennsylvania catch up and ensure testing across the board,” DeLissio said. “Blood level testing is imperative, and S.B. 522 seeks to ensure that all children ages 1 and 2, as well as pregnant women, are tested.”  

The PA Lead-Free Promise Project, the sponsor of the news event, is a statewide coalition of almost 60 housing, municipal, law enforcement, children's advocates, pediatricians and many other organizations trying to finally end the childhood lead poisoning scourge in Pennsylvania along with Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a partner organization, because there is a strong association with the nervous system damage caused by lead paint exposure and future juvenile and adult crime.