Harrisburg Ramping Up Lead Testing, Remediation Efforts

May 12, 2016

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse (center) and Hamilton Health CEO Regina King sign a memorandum of understanding for the new lead testing and abatement partnership.
Credit Emily Previti / WITF

Lead-based paint remains in homes in cities nationwide, including many in Pennsylvania, despite long-standing awareness of health risks to young children.

So Hamilton Health Center, located in one of Harrisburg's most distressed neighborhoods, already does free lead-exposure screenings for children under six.

But a new partnership with the city will mean the health center gets new equipment that will mean faster testing and response.

Instead of waiting weeks, parents get results within minutes. And health workers will then start the process of lead paint remediation, which the city does free for qualifying families (with a household income 80 percent or less than the city's $34,000 median).

Mayor Eric Papenfuse says the need is great.

"Thousands of homes, 90 percent of all buildings in Harrisburg have lead paint, so you can deduce from that it's more than [what] we'll be able to do with this grant," Papenfuse said Wednesday after announcing the program.

He's talking about $3.7 million for the city's remediation program from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Most cities get this funding on a regular basis.

But the most recent round for Harrisburg includes money to hire someone to coordinate between the city's lead abatement program and the health center, and the new equipment for the facility, which is located in one of the city's most troubled areas.

Find more of this report on the site of our partner, Keystone Crossroads