Lancaster's proposed lead ordinance could make it toughest in midstate

Written by Rachel McDevitt | Nov 1, 2017 6:10 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Lancaster could soon have one of the most stringent rules in the midstate for preventing lead poisoning in children.

The city council is slated to hold a public meeting on the proposed ordinance Wednesday night, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 120 N. Duke St.

Lancaster already has an ordinance in place requiring property owners to remove lead hazards if a child living there tests positive for an elevated level of lead in her blood.

The new measure tries to be more proactive, by compelling landlords to certify units as lead-safe if they are renting to a family with a child under six.

Randy Patterson is the city's director of economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and served on the task force that shaped the proposal. He said a lead-safe status doesn't mean there's no lead in the home, just that lead paint is in good condition and contained.

"In most cases, the only way you ensure that a child will not be exposed is to make them a lead-free unit, which means abatement of any lead paint within a unit," Patterson said.

Patterson said similar measures in other cities have been successful, even if they can't protect every child from lead exposure.

"But it is one step that we've found--Baltimore is the best example that we can provide--where there has been a gradual decline over the years of children who have tested with elevated lead blood levels," Patterson said.

Young children are especially susceptible to lead, which can cause lifelong problems with memory and behavior.

Council could vote on the plan by November 14th. If passed, it would go into effect 20 days later.

Statewide, many efforts to prevent lead poisoning focus on testing the child, not the home. Governor Tom Wolf has pushed for mandatory lead testing in children under two.

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