Target: Mike Turzai, Speaker of the House, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Goal: Address worsening lead exposure crisis that threatens the health of thousands of children.
The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan highlighted a silent epidemic which has touched cities across the United States. According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 900,000 children nationwide have been exposed to unsafe lead levels. An area which has felt an acute impact of this crisis is the state of Pennsylvania, with lead exposure levels in several cities far exceeding those in Flint.
A recent report by the Pennsylvania Department of Health found that over 10 percent of children tested in 17 cities had toxic levels of lead in their blood. This is compared with slightly more than three percent in Flint, and accounts for the second highest total number of lead-exposed children in the United States. The state has an unfortunate characteristic which places its citizens at a higher than average risk for lead exposure. A large number of housing units in Pennsylvania were constructed prior to 1978, when the use of lead-based paint was discontinued, and 83 percent of these older homes are likely to contain a measurable amount of lead. Pennsylvania has also lagged far behind other states in terms of implementing widespread lead testing programs in schools and residential areas.
Pennsylvania democratic state legislators have begun taking action to address the growing concerns regarding lead contamination. This has included introduction of bills requiring testing of all children under age six for lead exposure, amendments under the Safe Drinking Water Act to allow for annual testing of drinking water, and mandating that all rental properties built prior to 1978 also be tested for the presence of lead. These proposed measures are supported by a National Institutes of Health study, which found that for every dollar spent on lead paint hazard control there is a societal return of between $17-$221.
It is imperative that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle work to protect children from lead exposure in Pennsylvania. Please sign the below petition urging House Speaker Mike Turzai and his Republican colleagues to support the proposed legislation.
Dear Speaker Turzai,
As I’m sure you’re aware, the state of Pennsylvania is currently experiencing a lead contamination crisis which has already seen a rate of lead exposure in 17 cities far exceeding those measured in Flint, Michigan. This is primarily due to historically inadequate testing of children and a large number of older housing units that have not been inspected for the presence of lead-based paint.
Please set an example for your Republican colleagues and vote in favor of proposed House bills 1917, 1918 and 1919. These measures would provide concrete strategies for directly addressing the above causes of lead exposure.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Abby Lanes