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Stafford, a health aide, was working at a house in Germantown.She sped to her Brewerytown home, grabbed her 2 1/2-year-old son, Murad, and rushed him to St.Research now shows there is no safe level of lead exposure for infants and young children."Even at very low levels, children can have trouble learning and have other problems with their brain function," said Dr.The city has the nation's first Lead Court, created in 2002, to force landlords and homeowners to rid their properties of lead perils.Typically, the city drags only the most serious cases into Lead Court — 121 cases last year.

Jalen was a toddler when his mother, Avril Absolum, and aunt moved into a house on Kenmore Road in the city's Overbrook section in 2009.

Philadelphia only steps in when a child is poisoned at level 10. The city did take a stab at prevention in 2012, enacting a law regulating homes built before 1978.

Landlords renting to families with children age 6 and under must have their properties certified as lead-safe and provide proof to their tenants and to the Department of Public Health. City health officials said they know of no fines collected for such violations.

In some stubborn pockets of the city, as many as one out of five children under age 6 have high lead levels. The city has a timeworn housing stock, with 92 percent of homes built before the country's 1978 lead-paint ban.

And with the worst deep poverty of the nation's largest cities, many families find themselves trapped in toxic houses that made their children sick.