Pittsburgh City Council Commits to Introduction of Legislation to Prevent Lead Poisoning
Resolution comes as City recognizes National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week
Pittsburgh, PA (October 27, 2020) – In recognition of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, Pittsburgh City Council announced their commitment to a lead-safe Pittsburgh by collaborating on legislation that would prevent lead poisoning and by raising awareness of the issues surrounding exposure to lead hazards in the community.
“The leading cause of lead poisoning in Pittsburgh’s children is lead-based paint,” said City Councilperson Deborah Gross. “Our housing stock is older – 80% of our homes were built before 1978 when lead-based paint was banned – so we need to prevent our homes and other built environments from poisoning our children.”
Lead poisoning causes lifelong cognitive and behavioral problems, particularly when children are exposed to lead at an early age. From 2015 to 2019, 876 Pittsburgh children were newly identified as having lead poisoning, based on Allegheny County Health Department data.
On Tuesday, October 27, Pittsburgh City Council members Deborah Gross, Erika Strassburger, Bobby Wilson, and Corey O’Connor declared October 25 – 31, 2020, as Pittsburgh National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week and introduced the resolution, “The Council of the City of Pittsburgh does hereby declare that citizens and government officials of the City of Pittsburgh shall observe this week to enhance public awareness and commit to drafting and introducing legislation that will prevent the Pittsburgh community from being further poisoned by lead in our built environments and support children to live to their full potential.”
“This is an important step for the City,” added City Councilperson Erika Strassburger. “We have work to do to craft legislation that will be impactful and enforceable across our City. It’s time to take this step forward to solve an issue that’s plagued us for decades.”
Also in the October 27 council meeting, supporters of the Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh campaign shared a letter signed by nearly 200 organizations and residents urging City Council to enact a Pittsburgh Lead Safety Law.
“The data demonstrates that children are suffering from lead poisoning in every corner of our City,” said City Councilman Bobby Wilson, whose district includes the largest number of lead poisoning cases. “As lead poisoning disproportionately impacts Black and Brown children, it’s not just a public health issue, it’s a social justice issue.”
Pittsburgh City Council has been working to understand the effects of lead poisoning, specific hazards in the community, and lessons learned from other cities that have successfully enacted lead-safe policies. In September, City Council members Corey O’Connor and Deborah Gross hosted a post-agenda on lead poisoning to hear from leading experts across the country.
“Pittsburgh is not alone in having legacy lead issues,” City Councilman Corey O’Connor said of last month’s event. “We are learning from cities like Rochester, New York, and Baltimore, Maryland, that have found smart ways to protect their residents from lead poisoning.”
“We envision a lead-safe Pittsburgh,” said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, Executive Director, Women for a Healthy Environment and supporter of the Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh effort. “In a lead-safe Pittsburgh, children no longer suffer from the lifelong cognitive and behavioral problems caused by lead poisoning; adults aren’t struggling with heart disease and kidney failure because of long-term exposure to lead; and our community doesn’t wait for children to be poisoned in order to identify lead hazards; we work proactively to recognize the threats and prevent them.”
About Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh – Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh is a public awareness campaign designed to educate the public, connect affected families with tools and resources, and advocate for policies that prevent lead poisoning in Allegheny County children. Learn more at GetTheLeadOutPgh.org.