Lancaster County is a combination of rural and urban environments as seen in Lancaster City compared with the surrounding Plain communities. The sources of environmental exposure on urban and rural populations are varied but their impacts may combine to significantly affect health in both settings. Lancaster County does not have a county health department and relies on small community organizations, like the Lancaster Lead Coalition and the Partnership for Public Health, to promote health and prevent exposure.
Childhood lead poisoning is still one of the most important health issues in the United States today. According to recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates, 890,000 US children age 1-5 have elevated blood lead levels that may harm their health and development.
- Lead poisoning can affect nearly every system in the body and frequently goes unrecognized because it often occurs with no obvious symptoms.
- Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, slowed growth, hearing loss, and behavioral problems. At very high levels, lead poisoning can cause seizures, coma, and death.
- Only 7% of children in Lancaster have their lead levels tested by age 7 compared to 14.68% of the PA population.
Lancaster County has very high prevalence (13.4%) of lead poisoning compared to the state average (3.29%) . A recent study found that the majority of cases of lead poisoning were concentrated in Lancaster City, where there is a cluster of old housing stock and renters.
Source: Number and Percentage of Children Aged 0-23 months with Confirmed Elevated Blood lead level by county, 2017 PA Lead Surveillance Report
On September 26, 2019, the City of Lancaster announced that the City had been awarded a $9.1 million Lead Hazard Reduction Grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), plus an additional $600,000 of Healthy Homes supplemental funding. The Lead Hazard Reduction Grant will systematically make 710 housing units lead safe in Lancaster city. The Healthy Homes supplemental funding will enable the City to address other health hazards such as radon, mold and tripping hazards in 120 homes. Matching funds from the City and property owners brings the total funding to $11.1 million.
The focus area for the grant is four census tracts (9, 10, 14, and 147) south of King Street where 16,000 residents live. The majority of houses in the area were built prior to 1940, many of which have lead-based paint present. These census tracts are among the highest for children with elevated blood lead levels in the city. Data from the PA Department of Health indicates that between 2015-2018, 18.3% of children under the age of six who resided within those four census tracts and were tested for lead had elevated blood lead levels (over 5 μg/dL).
The Community Engagement Core is an active member of the Lancaster Partnership for Public Health and on a subcommittee of the partnership, the Lancaster Lead Coalition. We are currently working with the Coalition to develop a comprehensive program to identify sources of lead exposure in urban poor and the Plain community. We are seeking funding for a program to reduce the high rates of lead poisoning in the county.
We are also working with the City of Lancaster to develop a comprehensive plan for using the recently awarded HUD grant. CEC Deputy Director Richard Pepino is leading this work with the City.
Check out the Child Lead Poisoning Resource Guide!
What is Lead?
Lead is a heavy metal and basic chemical element. Lead is a poison that can slow mental and physical growth and impair child development. For these reasons, knowing where lead might show up in the environment is imperative so that you can avoid exposure.
The following video created by Lancaster Partnership for Public Health, highlights the story of kids who have been exposed to lead and how their lives will be forever impacted:
Check out the Lead Brochure!
Sources of Lead and What You Can Do
|Homes built before 1977 likely contain lead-based paint and old paint flakes off.||∙ Don’t sand off old paint. Let your landlord know about chipping paint. ∙ Wet mop and dust often.|
|Soil (dirt) near heavily-used streets, old homes, old factories, and even playgrounds may contain lead.||∙ Wash hands after playing outside. ∙ Hand sanitizer does not remove lead.|
|Lead may get into drinking water when materials used in plumbing contain lead. Well water can become contaminated at anytime.||∙ Run the water for 10 minutes before drinking, cooking, or making baby formula. ∙ Test well water annually.|
|Lead is also found in some imported children’s toys, candy, and cosmetics||∙ Be aware of the items you are buying and consuming.|
Mayor: HUD lead-mitigation grant a game changer for children’s health
Posted: Thursday, September 26, 2019 | BY TIM STUHLREHER
High levels of lead found in drinking water at Penn Manor elementary school, 7 times the federal limit
Posted: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 | BY SUSAN BALDRIGE
Lancaster lead poisoning one of the highest in U.S.
Posted: Friday, June 17, 2016 | BY SUSAN BALDRIGE
Lead poisoning in Pa., N.J. may be worse than Flint
Posted: Saturday, February 6, 2016 | BY SAM WOOD
Lead can cause brain damage, maybe even crime
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015 7:00 am | Updated: 7:43 am, Mon Mar 16, 2015. BY SUSAN BALDRIGE AND GIL SMART
Silent menace: Lead still a big problem in Lancaster County
Posted Sunday, March 15, 2015 6:00 am | Updated: 4:51 pm, Tue Mar 17, 2015. BY SUSAN BALDRIGE AND GIL SMART
How to tell if you have lead in your home
Posted Sunday, March 15, 2015 6:00 am | Updated: 1:49 pm, Sun Mar 15, 2015. BY SUSAN BALDRIGE AND GIL SMART
Lead may be lurking where you don’t expect it
Posted: Sunday, March 15, 2015 6:00 am | Updated: 2:07 pm, Sun Mar 15, 2015. BY SUSAN BALDRIGE AND GIL SMART
Lancaster County Demographic Information
|Population, 2018 estimate||543,557||12,807,060|
|Population, 2010 (April 1) estimates base||519,446||12,702,884|
|Population, percent change, April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2018||2.7%||0.8%|
|Language other than English spoken at home, percent age 5+, 2013-2017||16.7%||11.0%|
|High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2013-2017||84.8%||89.9%|
|Bachelor’s degree or higher, percent of persons age 25+, 2009-2013||26.5%||30.1%|
|Housing units, 2018||212,205||5,713,150|
|Homeownership rate, 2013-2017||68.2%||69.0%|
|Median gross rent, 2013-2017||$957||$885|
|Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2013-2017||$193,200||$170,500|
|Persons per household, 2013-2017||2.64||2.47|
|Per capita money income in the past 12 months (2017 dollars), 2013-2017||$29,280||$31,476|
|Median household income, (2017 dollars), 2013-2017||$61,492||$56,951|
|Persons below poverty level, percent, 2009-2013||9.9%||12.5%|
|Land area in square miles, 2010||943.81||44,742.70|
|Persons per square mile, 2010||550.4||283.9|