HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lead-Free Promise Project, a coalition of over 55 organizations that seek to improve the quality and access to lead screening and health services, endorsed Senate Bill 522, the “Childhood Blood Lead Test Act,” on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

“Still today in 2022, 8,000 innocent young children are being poisoned by lead every year — and to make matters even worse only about 20% are screened,” said Jeffery R. Martin, M.D., chair of the department of family and community medicine at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital. “But this bill, Senate Bill 522, would establish what Pennsylvania law is currently lacking, lead testing requirements that could save thousands of children from harm.”

Less than one-third of children in Pennsylvania under the age of two were screened for lead in their blood in 2018, and less than one-fifth of children under the age of six have been tested.

Lead poisoning can have irreversible and serious effects, including neurological/developmental disabilities.

Senate Bill 522 would ensure that all pregnant women and children in the Commonwealth have blood tests done to test for lead poisoning.

“Today, we are talking about something very basic, the safety of a family’s living environment. Childhood lead poisoning is an insidious threat that in too many cases goes unnoticed or unaddressed,” said Cumberland County District Attorney Sean McCormack. “My law enforcement colleagues view childhood lead poisoning as a significant public safety issue. The Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, and the Pennsylvania Sheriffs’ Association have all endorsed the Lead-Free Promise Project, the sponsor of this event.”

Pennsylvania leads the United States in lead exposure; Pennsylvania has the second highest number of children testing positive for lead poisoning.

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To this day, 8,000 children in Pennsylvania are poisoned by lead every year.

Senate Bill 522 unanimously passed the Senate in June of 2022 and its currently awaiting a vote from the House Children and Youth Committee on Sept. 21, 2022.