Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – One in five American children has a learning or attention disability. And the rising autism rate, which has nearly tripled since 2000, affects one in 54 children. In Pennsylvania, over 120,000 children were identified with a specific learning disability in 2019; thousands more have ADHD.
Exposure to toxic chemicals is the cause for one in every 200 U.S. children suffering from developmental or neurological deficits. As a chemical, lead has one of the strongest links to neurological harm.
Everyone agrees: NO level of lead is safe for children. The good news? It’s preventable.
The Learning Disabilities Association of Pennsylvania shares the distress of parents, professionals and schools over the continued lead crisis. In addition to the emotional and social costs, school systems spend about twice as much to educate a child with special needs as other students.
The estimated yearly cost of childhood lead exposure in the U.S. is $50 billion. Reducing blood lead levels yields significant savings. Every $1 invested to reduce lead hazards in housing yields economic benefits of $17 to $221. Another analysis estimated $110 billion to $319 billion in benefits for a cohort of 3.8 million children, primarily attributed to improvements in worker productivity from increased IQ scores.
It’s not enough to test children for lead; we need to eliminate the source. This is why we support City Council’s passed this week of its “Pittsburgh Lead Safety Law” including: lead inspections of rental homes and childcare centers built before 1978; lead-safe demolition requirements; contractors working in spaces built before 1978 must complete their work in an EPA-certified lead-safe manner; and water filters for all city-owned spaces where children spend time.