By Stephanie Stahl and Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia city officials, Tuesday, announced additional steps to prevent lead poisoning in children, and they hope one subtle change to the law could make a big difference.

The city’s 40-year battle against lead poisoning has had success.

In the last ten years, alone, the number of children with high lead levels fell by 75 percent.

One step was requiring landlords renting units built before 1978, when lead paint was outlawed, to families with children under six, certify the unit is lead-safe.

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Health Commissioner Tom Farley says that did not go far enough.

“The city does not have a database of where all young families live and even if we did, families move and women can become pregnant,” he said.

Farley says the Lead Task Force recommends that city council require the certification for all units built before 1978.

It also recommends expanding funding to help landlords remove lead hazards, through a medicaid waiver and a statewide tax on paint.

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“We’re going to everything we can to protect our children from lead, for their future and ours,” Farley said.

Old homes and buildings are the primary source of lead poisoning, which comes from chipping paint.

The number of children in Philadelphia exposed to lead  has declined but it’s still a big concern for Megan Maza-Rick who’s a renter and mother of child in Port Richmond.

“We were really worried about the paint,” she said. “We’re probably looking to move out to the suburbs for this very reason.”

 

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