Is Your Child at Risk for Lead Poisoning?

Tragically, lead poisoning continues to be a threat to Delaware County babies.  Nearly 80% of all homes and apartments in the county have lead-based paint in them because they were built before 1980, the time when toxic lead paint was finally banned for use in homes.

Babies and children under age 3 are most at-risk.  Most children get poisoned from breathing in or swallowing dust in their homes that contains lead.  Lead dust tastes sweet, and just a tiny amount of lead causes harm. When babies and toddlers crawl or play on the floor, then put their fingers in their mouths or touch dusty windowsills, they put themselves at real risk of lead poisoning.  Children can also be poisoned by eating paint chips or lead-poisoned soil, or by drinking water with high amounts of lead.

Parents of children under 3-years-old and pregnant women can keep their babies safe from lead poisoning by taking three important steps:

  • #1: Test Your Home: If you own your home, get it tested for lead by a certified lead dust wipe technician.  If your income is small, you may qualify for a free home lead test through one of Delaware County’s two Lead Removal Programs.  You can find more information about these programs by going to  pccy.org/lead.

If you don’t qualify for a free test, you can hire a certified technician to test your home.  You can find companies that do this work by searching the internet or by searching the EPA website.

Rentals are a big source of lead poisoning.  If you are a renter, and your home was built before 1978, ask your landlord to fix chipping and/or peeling paint. Your landlord should remove all paint dust safely and clean up completely after the repairs are done.  If your landlord doesn’t make the repairs, call your borough or township office and file a complaint against your landlord.

  • #2: Remove Toxic Lead if Found: If lead is found in your home and you have a small income, you may qualify for one of the Delaware County Lead Removal Programs to remove the lead for free.  If you don’t qualify for one of these programs, Delaware County also has four other programs that help families with small incomes make home repairs.  These programs aren’t specifically for removing lead, but if lead is found, it will be removed during the repair process.  You can find more information by going to pccy.org/lead.

If you don’t qualify for any of these programs, you can hire a certified lead removal company to get the lead out.  You can find a certified removal company by searching the EPA website.

  • #3: Test Your Children: Ask your child’s doctor to give your child a blood lead test.  All children ages 3 and under who live in homes built before 1980 should get this test.  Children with Medicaid or CHIP are required to have a blood lead test when they are 1-year AND 2-years-old, and those tests are free.  If you don’t have a doctor or health insurance, your child can get a low-cost lead test at a ChesPenn Health Center in Upper Darby (610-352-6585) or Chester City (610-872-6131).