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Lead Poisoning

Lead can do great harm, especially to young children.  Childhood lead poisoning at low levels may make learning difficult, interfere with growth, harm hearing and delay development.  At high levels, lead may cause coma, convulsions and even death. The leading cause of lead poisoning is lead dust from lead-based paint which was used in many homes until 1978.  Young children are exposed to lead dust in older homes through normal everyday activities such as crawling on the floor and putting their hands, toys or other objects in their mouths.  Lead can also be found in bare soil, some imported spices, home remedies and cosmetics.

In addition to lead, other home conditions can contribute to injuries or illnesses. Lung diseases such as asthma have been linked to the presence of:

  • tobacco smoke
  • mold
  • dust mites
  • pests

Homes with moderate or severe physical problems place residents at increased risk for:

  • burns
  • electrocution
  • falls
  • rodent bites
  • lung cancer

Exposure to pesticides, toxins,  radon and carbon monoxide are also harmful for residents.

Need more information?

The Department of Health provides a toll-free Lead Information Line (1-800-440-LEAD) to respond to caller questions and provide electronic materials about lead poisoning and other environmental hazards.

Go to the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention FAQ .

Lead Surveillance Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Health's Lead Surveillance Program tracks and monitors childhood lead activity through the Pennsylvania National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (PA-NEDSS).  PA-NEDSS is a web-based application system that receives all lead reports on Pennsylvania's children.  Through PA-NEDSS, the Division of Child and Adult Health Services can identify possible high-risk areas, locate areas of under-testing and identify other potential service gaps.

To find out more about Pennsylvania's continual progress in reducing childhood lead poisoning, please click on any of the reports below. The reports contain data tables and explanations related to childhood lead testing activity statewide.

Safe and Healthy Homes Program

The Safe and Healthy Homes Program (SHHP) seeks to provide education and interventions to promote healthy homes and prevent problems and injuries.  When hazards are present in a home, they can have a profound effect upon the health of the residents, particularly those most vulnerable such as children.  By identifying and addressing hazards such as mold, pests, lead dust, bare wires and dust mites, a home can be made much safer and healthier for its residents.

Lead-Safe Renovation

Any contractor doing renovation in PA homes older than 1978 must be a Certified Renovator.  The purpose of lead-safe renovation is to assure that new lead hazards are not created during the work.  The EPA enforces the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule in Pennsylvania.  For a searchable list of Certified Renovators visit the EPA website.

Lead Paint Inspection and Removal

For a list of certified lead professionals visit the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry website.


Contact Us

Bureau of Family Health
Division of Child & Adult Health Services
Health and Welfare Building    
625 Forster St. 
Seventh Floor, East Wing    
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0701