Dust from lead-based paint and soil is the leading cause of lead poisoning in Allegheny County children, according to investigations conducted by the Allegheny County Health Department. And since demolitions tend to kick up dust, it’s important to find ways to prevent dust from traveling through a neighborhood. This is especially true when demolishing homes and buildings constructed before 1978, when lead-based paint was banned.
To mitigate dust and prevent exposure to toxic lead dust, contractors must use the ‘Wet-Wet-Wet Method’ for demolitions. This practice involves spraying water to the building before the demo begins, during the demo process, and on the debris after the building has been razed.
“A lead safe demolition prescribes applying water to the site before, during and after the demolition,” explains Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Executive Director, Women for a Healthy Environment, co-chair, Lead-Safe Allegheny and supporter of the Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh campaign. “We know that water is accessible, so this is an easy practice for contractors. The cost is fairly minimal to have long-term health benefits and positive impacts to the community. We hope that by sharing the best practice ‘Wet-Wet-Wet Method’ among municipal leaders, contractors and developers, it will become commonplace in our community in a short time.”
With the passage of Act 152 in Allegheny County in spring 2020, additional dollars will be generated for demolitions of blighted properties in Allegheny County. Including the lead-safe ‘Wet-Wet-Wet Method’ is a way to keep the community, especially children who are particularly vulnerable to the lasting physical and cognitive effects of lead poisoning, lead safe.