Making the city lead-safe
The City of Philadelphia is working to reduce the number of children with elevated lead levels, and to help families whose homes contain lead paint and lead pipes. Laws, regulations, and an advisory group protect families and children from the harmful effects of lead. When property owners refuse to make necessary repairs to protect children from lead, they can end up in Lead Court.
In Philadelphia today, more than 90 percent of children under 6 are tested for lead poisoning, with many tested more than once. The percentage of children with blood levels above 10 ug/dL fell from 2.2 percent of those tested (843 children) in 2007 to 0.8 percent (318 children) in 2017. The percentage of children with blood lead levels between 5 and 9 ug/dL fell from 9.4 percent of those tested (3,536 children) in 2007 to 3.4 percent (1,305 children) in 2017.
Read the latest report on lead testing in Philadelphia.
Lead Advisory Group
In 2017, Mayor Jim Kenney released the final report and recommendations from the Philadelphia Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Advisory Group. This report supplements the commitments the City made to reduce lead poisoning in its “Lead-Free Kids: Preventing Lead Poisoning in Philadelphia” report, released in December 2016.
Laws and regulations
The City of Philadelphia has laws and regulations to protect residents from unsafe living conditions. These laws and regulations ensure that housing is safe and that landlords are accountable.
- In 2012, the Philadelphia City Code was amended to include the Philadelphia Lead Paint Disclosure and Certification Law. Currently, the law requires owners of properties built before 1978 and rented to children 6 years or younger to provide the tenant with certification prepared by a dust wipe technician stating that the property is either lead safe or lead-free. Beginning October 1, 2020, landlords will be required to test and certify rental properties as lead-safe or lead-free, regardless of a child’s age, in order to:
- Execute a new or renewed lease or
- Receive or renew a rental license.
- The School District of Philadelphia conducts water testing at every school on a five year cycle. This helps to guarantee that students have access to safe drinking water at school. All water testing results are posted online for public view.
- The School District of Philadelphia must keep its buildings safe from environmental hazards, including asbestos, mold, and lead paint.
- All schools and licensed day care facilities caring for 13 or more children are required to test all potable water outlets for lead and submit results to the Department of Public Health.
- The City of Philadelphia has other lead paint laws and regulations to protect residents from unsafe living conditions. The City provides resources to landlords to help them keep their properties lead free or lead safe.
EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule
Philadelphia successfully passed the most recent round of water quality testing for lead at customers’ taps. In addition to regular tests done every year at home taps upon request, we also comply with federal drinking water regulations, defined in the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule. This rule requires us to sample water from taps in homes that have lead service lines every three years. 90 percent of the sampled homes must have lead levels under the action level of 15 ppb.
Requirements for construction and demolition
In 2016, the City of Philadelphia’s Air Pollution Control Board created requirements designed to limit the public’s exposure to dust. Property owners and operators of construction or demolition projects must:
- Notify people who live near pending construction or demolition projects at least 10 days before starting work.
- Use basic dust control techniques to reduce and limit the creation of lead dust.
If a landlord or homeowner does not repair the lead hazards in their property, they may be referred to Lead Court.
When a child’s blood lead level tests at 10 or above, the child’s health care provider notifies the Lead and Healthy Homes Program (LHHP). LHHP will visit the property where the child lives and conduct a comprehensive inspection for lead hazards. The inspection report details all of the surfaces in the property that must be repaired.
LHHP will give the landlord or homeowner an order to remediate the lead hazards within 30 days. At this time, the property owner may be eligible for funding to help remove the lead hazards. LHHP will work with the property owner to see if they qualify for funding and/or help to coordinate the lead repair.
LHHP will re-inspect the property after 30 days. If the property owner has failed to make or schedule the repairs, or failed to follow proper remediation guidelines, LHHP will inform the City’s Law Department. The Law Department will then contact the property owner with a date to appear in Lead Court.
Before the court date, the property owner has the opportunity to make or schedule the repairs. If the work is completed or in progress by the court date, the Law Department can either discontinue the court referral or issue a continuance. If the property owner does not make the repairs, the judge may impose fines ranging from $2,000 to $250,000.