Gov. Wolf calls for statewide, universal blood-lead level testing of children

Gov. Wolf calls for statewide, universal blood-lead level testing of children

Author: Jason Gottesman/Wednesday, August 30, 2017/Categories: News and Views

Gov. Tom Wolf Wednesday called on his Department of Health to work with the state General Assembly to craft legislation mandating statewide blood-lead level testing for children under the age of two.


“We need to be able to identify all children who have elevated blood-lead levels in order make sure their families have access to the services they need,” Gov. Wolf said. “Only with universal testing will we know the true scope of lead poisoning in Pennsylvania and be able to refer affected children for care.” 


According to a recent study from the Health Department, an average of 28 percent of children under age 23 months had their lead levels tested in 2015, with some counties having testing levels as low as 12 percent and no county reaching a rate higher than 47 percent.


“Universal testing will address the gaps in childhood lead testing data, which will help us develop and implement a comprehensive lead-poisoning prevention strategy in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Rachel Levine, Acting Secretary of Health and Physician General, said.


“In the meantime, we encourage parents to talk to their pediatricians about the risk factors and ask that their child be tested. It is essential to learn the facts and your individual risks to prevent lead poisoning because any level of lead detected in your child’s blood is too high.”


A similar effort is already underway in some areas of the state, started by local health agencies over lead potentially contaminating local water supplies.


The Wolf administration also noted older homes with lead-based paint as a leading cause of lead contamination among children.


As recently as July, Allegheny County Council passed an ordinance to require lead testing for children between the ages of nine and 12 months old, with a new test to occur at 24 months.


The county hopes to have the program operational by January 2018.