LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – Each year in Pennsylvania nearly 9,000 young kids suffer from lead poisoning, that’s according to Lead-Free Promise Project.
The most common cause of lead poisoning is from chipped lead-based paint. That type of paint was banned in 1978.
“Lancaster County has one of the largest older housing stocks in Pennsylvania. And we are one of the counties that have a lot of lead-poisoned kids,” said Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital Lead Poisoning prevention program manager Marisol Maldonado.
20 years ago, City of Lancaster’s lead program manager Elaine Esch got her kids tested.
“I got my kids tested and they both had elevated lead levels and I had no idea that I was putting them at any risk,” said Esch.
Esch now helps raise awareness to prevent lead poisoning for future generations.
“The biggest thing is to get your kids tested for lead poisoning when they go to the pediatrician,” said Esch.
Experts recommend you get your kids tested at least twice before age three. Your kid’s doctor may recommend future testing as needed.
“Definitely people that live in a home that was built before 1978,” said Maldonado.
Esch says it took a long time to get the poison out of her kid’s bodies. Someone from the Department of Health came to the house every three months to test her kids and they went on a very healthy diet.
“Three meals a day, lots of like dark leafy greens. I also gave my kids iron supplements, which can help bring the level down, but it’s really a difficult process once they’re lead poisoned,” said Esch.
According to Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, lead poisoning can cause hearing damage, nerve disorders, kidney problems, speech development problems, learning disabilities, muscle and joint pain, lower IQ, nausea, and stomachaches.
The effects of lead poisoning may not appear until your child is older. The effects of lead poisoning are permanent and can’t be cured.
“I think it’s really important that you look at the whole child and to give them the best opportunity that they can have to learn and to be able to pursue their passions and make a difference in the world,” said Robin Bowden.
Having lead in your home is not always dangerous. “It’s not really a danger if it’s intact, but it’s the places where it’s peeling or chipping or if you have old wooden windows when you open and close the windows, then that causes dust from the friction,” said Esch.
Besides cleaning areas in your home where your kid spends most of their time, there are two programs in Lancaster County that come into your home and test for lead.
There are some eligibility requirements for the programs.
There is the Lead Hazard Control & Healthy Homes Program through the City of Lancaster.
Also, the Healthy Homes Program through Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health.