(HARRISBURG) – The Pennsylvania Senate has unanimously passed legislation that takes a significant step forward to protect children from lead poisoning, according to the bill’s prime sponsors, Senator Lisa Baker (R-20) and Senator John Yudichak (I-14).
Senate Bill 522 is bi-partisan legislation that seeks to ensure that all pregnant women and all children in Pennsylvania receive blood tests to detect lead poisoning. Effects of lead poisoning are irreversible and severe, including neurological and developmental disabilities. No level of lead is safe for children, and symptoms may not present themselves until it is too late.
“Protecting our children and expectant mothers from the risks of lead exposure will help to create stronger and healthier communities across our Commonwealth, “Senator Lisa Baker said. “Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, yet currently only one quarter of children in Pennsylvania are being screened. It is hard to imagine the pain and cost to families whose children are affected. Often times these exposures are not from an older home as may be expected, but in some cases are merely from a child’s toy. I’m grateful to my colleague, Senator Yudichak, for joining me in this initiative to proactively invest in lead testing, to better safeguard the health of our children.”
“I was happy to work with my colleague, Senator Lisa Baker, on numerous legislative initiatives over the past few years, starting with the formation of the Task Force on Lead Exposure in 2017, which has made immense strides in protecting our children from the effects of lead exposure. Senate Bill 522 is yet another impactful piece of legislation that will help to develop a more comprehensive lead assessment and remediation plan for Pennsylvania,” Senator John Yudichak said. “Lead testing rates for our children here in Pennsylvania are simply not where they need to be and have remained stagnant. This legislation ensures that our children and also our expectant mothers here in the Commonwealth are better protected from the harmful risks of lead exposure.”
The legislators explained that working to address this problem has been a focus for the last several years. In June 2017, the Task Force on Lead Exposure was established by Senate Resolution 33. In addition to establishing the Task Force, the resolution called for a study by the Joint State Government Commission. The Commission report, “Lead Exposure Risks and Responses in Pennsylvania”, was released in April 2019 and named 12 recommendations, including requiring universal blood screenings for children.
Baker and Yudichak underscored the importance of this measure within the local community. In Luzerne County alone, over 200 children have exposure to lead poisoning. But this is only the 8th highest annual rate in the state; a shocking statistic given how few children are currently receiving tests for lead poisoning.
Senate Bill 522 has now been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Kate Flessner (Senator Baker) firstname.lastname@example.org (717) 787-7428
Brad Hurley (Senator Yudichak) email@example.com (570) 325-3274