PA Law Enforcement Associations Join Effort to Reduce Childhood Lead Paint Poisoning

Lead HazardsImage by Rebecca Matthews
Associations Endorse the Lead-Free Promise Project Coalition

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, and Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association have joined forces with the Lead-Free Promise Project to help end lead paint poisoning in Pennsylvania. This announcement comes as National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week October 24-30 raises awareness of the ongoing issue of childhood lead poisoning.

According to a report issued in May by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Pennsylvania – a bipartisan organization comprised of hundreds of police chiefs, sheriffs, and prosecutors promoting solutions that steer kids away from crime – children who were exposed to lead in early childhood committed, on average, nearly five more delinquent acts as adolescents than their peers who were not exposed to lead as children.

“Research shows the link between lead poisoning in children and future learning disabilities, behavior issues and problems with impulse control. This can lead to future juvenile and adult crime,” said Greg Rowe, Esq., Executive Director of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. “Investing in lead paint remediation and early childhood blood lead level testing are effective ways to keep our children safe and healthy and will benefit our commonwealth for generations to come.”

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A longitudinal study of the relationship between lead exposure and crime found that populations that had lead in their drinking water had higher homicide rates after 20 years compared to areas where lead was not present in drinking water. Another study found that, as blood lead levels increased, so did the risk of being arrested for a violent crime in young adulthood.

“As law enforcement, we see the challenges children face every day and preventable lead-paint poisoning should not be one of them,” said David Steffen, Chief of Police, Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department and President of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. “By implementing lead remediation practices and investing in children’s health now, we can prevent Pennsylvania’s children from being exposed to lead and ensure that they are less likely to be involved in the justice system later in life.”

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“With research being so clear regarding the impact of lead exposure on children and on public safety, the time is now to invest in lead paint remediation and having all young children tested to end the ongoing scourge of lead poisoning,” said Thomas M. Maioli, Jr., Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association.

Even though lead paint was banned in 1978, lead poisoning is still far too prevalent across Pennsylvania today, with nearly 9,000 PA children poisoned every year. 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 it. There is no safe level of lead exposure in children. Pennsylvania ranks 5th in the nation for old housing stock with 70% of residential units built before 1980.

“Because poisoning from ingesting lead paint chips and inhaling lead paint dust is 100 percent preventable, children and their families should not have to continue facing this detrimental and irreversible problem,” said Bruce Clash, Pennsylvania State Director, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. “We will see a return on investment for every dollar that we put into remediating this issue and will save our children not only from the health effects of lead exposure, but also from potential future crime.”

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As part of the Lead-Free Promise Project, advocates are encouraging the state to dedicate $40 million of the federal American Rescue Plan dollars Pennsylvania has received to start a fund to help property owners with small incomes afford to get lead-paint hazards out of homes.

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