Pa. Legislature Mulls Lead Crackdown

In the wake of Flint, legislation to test for and reduce lead in the environment.

Joe Mabel | Wikimedia Commons

Joe Mabel | Wikimedia Commons

Philadelphia officials may be promising that city water is safe from lead, but legislators in Harrisburg want to renew he state’s efforts to prevent a Flint-style disaster.

In recent days, proposals have emerged at both the House and Senate levels to test for and mitigate lead in places where Pennsylvanians — especially children — live, work, and play.

In the House, Democratic Reps. Angel Cruz and Michael Schlossberg on Monday unveiled a three-bill package to address the issue: One would require children under 6 to be tested for elevated lead levels in the blood; a second would mandate more frequent testing for lead in water; the third would require landlords to conduct a lead inspection before renting to new tenants — and face an annual $5,000 fine if lead in the home is not removed.

And on Tuesday, a coalition of state senators unveiled proposals for a five-pronged approach. The steps would include:

• Create a task force to study the lead problem in Pennsylvania.

Require that every school building be tested before the beginning of the school year. A second bill would require testing of water, paint, and soil at day cares during their licensure process.

Require that the sale of “real property” include the testing of the site’s water for lead.

Create a “superfund” for lead abatement.

“While the tragedy in Flint focuses on the water supply, the dangers of lead in Pennsylvania also extend to our schools, day cares, and housing stock through lead-based paint,” the senators wrote in memoranda distributed to colleagues. “It is time we take action to analyze the commonwealth’s potential lead issues and ensure that our children and our communities are safe.”

The Senate coalition includes Democratic Sens. John Yudichak, Vincent Hughes, Wayne Fontana, Shirley Kitchen, Art Haywood, and Jay Costa.