Lead and Urban Development
With funding from the Fels Policy Initiative, Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning Vincent Reina is working with an interdisciplinary team of scholars to study the impact and mitigation of lead in Philadelphia’s aging housing stock. Their collaboration makes important contributions to the understanding of lead, offering pragmatic policy recommendations to Philadelphia and other urban centers experiencing similar challenges.
Philadelphia’s old housing stock is what gives it much of its charm. However, the fact that 92 percent of Philadelphia’s housing units were built before 1978 also means lead is present in the majority of homes in the City. Research has shown that any interaction between humans and this element is proven to be harmful, particularly for kids under the age of six. In an effort to reduce lead exposure in children, Philadelphia passed a law in 2012 that requires owners of properties built before 1978 who renting to households with children under the age of 6 to send documentation of a negative lead test to the city. However, compliance rates are low, presenting a public health issue not just to individual households but to entire neighborhoods. With support from Fels, Reina and his partners from three different departments and colleges at Penn are collaborating to review current municipal practices and identify potential risk reduction strategies for public agencies.