Lead can do great harm, especially to young children. Childhood lead poisoning at low levels may make learning difficult, interfere with growth, harm hearing and delay development. At high levels, lead may cause coma, convulsions and even death. The leading cause of lead poisoning is lead dust from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes until 1978. Young children are exposed to lead dust in older homes through normal everyday activities such as crawling on the floor and putting their hands, toys or other objects in their mouths. Lead can also be found in some imported spices, home remedies and cosmetics.
In addition to lead, other home conditions can contribute to injuries or illnesses. Respiratory diseases such as asthma have been linked to the presence of tobacco smoke, mold, dust mites and pests or rodents in housing. Homes with moderate or severe physical problems place residents at increased risk for fire, electrical injuries, falls, rodent bites and other illnesses and injuries. Exposure to pesticide residues, indoor toxicants, tobacco smoke, radon and carbon monoxide can be harmful for anyone.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health's Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Program is currently comprised of three programs: the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (CLPPP), the Lead Hazard Control Program (LHCP) and the Lead Surveillance Program. In July of 2013, the Department of Health will begin implementation of the Lead and Healthy Homes Program. The Department of Health provides a toll-free Lead Information Line (1-800-440-LEAD) to respond to caller inquiries and provide written materials about childhood lead poisoning and other household hazards. In addition, the Department offers training in lead-abatement and other lead-certified disciplines at no cost to governmental and non-profit employees.
The Pennsylvania Department of Health’s Bureau of Family Health has awarded small no-bid grants to support community-based initiatives, targeted to children under age 12, that directly prevent dwelling-based illness and injury. Awardees will use funds for activities and materials to improve the dwelling-related health and safety of children across the commonwealth.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Health's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Programs (CLPPP), in partnership with agencies comprised of local health departments, city governments, and other representatives of the health care provider community, coordinates efforts to prevent, detect and treat children with elevated blood lead levels.
Lead Hazard Control Program
The Lead Hazard Control Program (LHCP) creates lead-safe home environments for low-income families with children under age 6. This program operates in four cities and two counties in Pennsylvania. The LHCP assesses high-risk homes, then makes them lead-safe. Program recipients must meet certain income and child eligibility requirements. The LHCP also conducts outreach to prevent lead poisoning and provides skills training for certified abatement contractors.