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The Guardian - Lead Poisoning in Philadelphia Homes
February 26, 2020

‘The lead burden is unevenly spread: an investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer found that as many as one in five children are poisoned in the city’s poorest neighborhoods where mostly black, Latinx and migrant families live. About two-thirds live in rental properties. “Lead poisoning is entirely preventable, but once the damage is done, it’s done. I don’t have anything in my back pocket to help, and the ramifications are long-term,” said George Dalembert, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.’

Shanaya Ball found out her son, Amari, was found to have high levels of lead in his blood after he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He’d been poisoned at his Philadelphia home by lead paint crumbling off the old windows, door frames and skirting boards to create toxic dust ingested and inhaled by both Shanaya and Amari.

Fatu Kante also found out her 2-year old son, Aly, was poisoned with lead. 
‘“I didn’t know anything about lead until that call telling me my son’s brain could be damaged. I was shaking and crying. I didn’t sleep for 30 days,” said Kante, 37, a hairdresser originally from Guinea.

The health department cleaned up their spacious apartment after the landlord refused to get rid of the flaking paint poisoning Aly. The ceilings are still damp and sagging, but the lead dust is gone.
Aly’s latest blood test showed the lead level was down to 11, but he remains hyperactive and suffers from insomnia and unpredictable bouts of aggression. His sister, Cissy, four, is also mildly poisoned. Kemo, nine, has not yet been tested’. 


© Hannah Yoon