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Lead Paint - Toxic City by Philly.com
But in Philadelphia, thousands of children, year after year, are newly poisoned by lead at a far higher rate than those in Flint. In Michigan, the remedy was switching back to a safe water source. Here, where the main culprit for this quiet and chronic scourge is deteriorating lead paint in old homes, the fix is elusive.
Last year alone, nearly 2,700 children tested in Philadelphia had harmful levels of lead in their blood. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible damage, including lower IQ and cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems.
Lead poisoning can be prevented, and cases have dropped sharply here and across the country. Yet Philadelphia continues to struggle to eradicate the problem, especially in the city's poorest neighborhoods. In some stubborn pockets of the city, as many as one out of five children under age 6 have high lead levels.
Philadelphia, which ranks among the top large U.S. cities at risk for childhood lead poisoning, is uniquely challenged. The city has a timeworn housing stock, with 92 percent of homes built before the country's 1978 lead-paint ban. And with the worst deep poverty of the nation's largest cities, many families find themselves trapped in toxic houses that made their children sick.
City health officials say they want to do more but over the last three years have lost $3 million in federal funding out of a $9 million program and cut 40 of 65 positions in the Lead and Healthy Homes program.
The city did take a stab at prevention in 2012, enacting a law regulating homes built before 1978. Landlords renting to families with children age 6 and under must have their properties certified as lead-safe and provide proof to their tenants and to the Department of Public Health.
The city has the nation's first Lead Court, created in 2002, to force landlords and homeowners to rid their properties of lead perils. Typically, the city drags only the most serious cases into Lead Court — 121 cases last year.
In Philadelphia, property owners can rent homes without a city inspection for lead hazards or any violations. They simply pay $50 to get the required rental license. Landlords have only bothered to get a license for about one-third of the city's 250,000 rentals. They are almost never penalized.
Since 2012, landlords have to provide proof their homes are lead-free or lead-safe for families with young children. But most fail to provide the certificate to the public health department and the tenant, and the city doesn't hold them accountable. In fact, less than 1 percent of landlords comply, public health officials estimate.
Above is an excerpt of the full article by Philly.com