Lawmakers United to Confront Lead Problems

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. -- State lawmakers from our area call lead poisoning a hidden crisis across Pennsylvania.

Many homes in Wilkes-Barre's south side were built long before 1978 when lead paint was banned.

Frances McCoy lives in a southside neighborhood with her 5-year-old son Jamaal.

"If there is more lead paint in these houses, then something should be done about it because it is very dangerous," McCoy said.

The danger of old homes with lead paint is that the paint eventually breaks down into dust. It's airborne. And it's especially dangerous in homes with small children.

"The effects of lead exposure and lead poisoning are cumulative and permanent," said State Sen. John Yudichak, (D) 14th District.

Sen. Yudichak and six of his colleagues just released a 432-page report titled "Lead Exposure Risks and Responses in Pennsylvania." It finds every county in northeastern and central Pennsylvania is vulnerable.

"We don't want to respond to the exposure. We want to prevent the exposure of lead in Pennsylvania," Sen. Yudichak said.

Yudichak and a group of Republican and Democratic senators are confident a series of proposals aimed at eliminating lead exposure will soon become law.

Proposals include:

  • yearly water and air tests for lead in all child care facilities,
  • requiring every child in Pennsylvania to be tested for lead exposure.

"Based on what we know for certain about the serious health effects of prolonged exposure and the developmental damage that's inflicted on children," said State Sen. Lisa Baker, (R) 20th District.

In Wilkes-Barre, Frances McCoy says she's lucky to have moved into a newer apartment, but she worries about neighbors living in older homes, wondering if they already have health problems from exposure to lead.

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