Addressing the Lead Problem in PA
The only good thing that has come out of the lead crisis in Flint, Mich., is the increased national conversation about the presence of lead throughout all communities across PA.
I've taken the issue seriously, and after convening several of my Senate colleagues, we recently introduced a 5 bill package to get a better understanding about the presence of lead, throughout PA, and to begin to remove this very toxic metal.
First, a couple of facts about lead:
- Lead, is most dangerous in young children, as it impacts, especially their ability to develop their brains, and to develop cognitive performance.
- Lead also impacts adults, in cardiovascular, nerve and kidney functions.
- Lead is a problem in water, but is most prevalent in old buildings that used lead based paint, which was outlawed in 1978.
On March 23rd, the Senate Democratic Caucus announced a package of bills that would assist in determining the extent of lead in PA, and would create a process to provide solutions to the problems.
Since lead is most problematic for children, our bills focus on where kids spend their time. Consequently we target homes, child care centers, and schools, which is where children are for most of their early lives.
For homes, Sen. Wayne Fontana will introduce Senate Bill 19 to require any agreement of sale for real property in the commonwealth to include an option to have the water tested for lead.
For child care centers, Sen. Shirley Kitchen will introduce Senate Bill 18 to require lead testing (water, paint, soil) in day care centers licensed by the PA Department of Human Services.
For schools, Sen. Art Haywood will introduce Senate Bill 17 to require every school building to be tested (water, paint, soil) for lead before a school year begins.
For the creation of a statewide task force to secure good information about the presence of lead and what we need to do about it, Sen. John Yudichak will introduce Senate Bill 16 to create a task force to study the scope of the lead issue, and record how old are our housing stock, pipelines, school buildings and day care centers. And,
To create a statewide superfund to pay for the removal and remediation of lead throughout PA, I will introduce Senate Bill 20.
PA has the 3rd most number of homes built before 1950, when lead was often used in their construction. When it comes to schools, the average age of buildings in the Philly School District is 69.5; 77 years in Pittsburgh; and 75 in Erie.
Because lead is present throughout PA, we have offered to our Republican colleagues the opportunity to work with us on this legislative package. We are awaiting their response.
Lead is a serious issue, and could require a very sizable response that would include marshalling the resources of city, state and federal governments along with our best minds from the medical and research communities, to work together in a coordinated fashion . You have my commitment to make sure that we see this through, and achieve the appropriate response to implementing solutions that remove the pain of lead, throughout PA.
Sen. Vincent Hughes
Senate Appropriations Committee Democratic Chairman
Learn more about the issues and provide your feedback on my website at senatorhughes.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@SenatorHughes).
Offices of State
Senator Vincent Hughes