Tribune-Review – Children who live in Pittsburgh remain more likely to have higher lead levels than those who live in other areas of the country, according to the Allegheny County Health Department. City officials are working to change that trend.
For several years, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has worked to replace lead service lines and is working with others on lead education and abatement programs. But lead in water lines is only part of the problem. Lead-based paint was used on many of the houses in the city before it was banned in the late 1970s, Pittsburgh Councilman Corey O’Connor said.
On Tuesday afternoon, O’Connor will host a 90-minute virtual meeting with local leaders, public health experts from across the country and the Rochester, N.Y., code enforcement manager to discuss other ways the city can work to address the issue.
“We’re looking forward to hearing about the issue itself and how we’re going to tackle it,” O’Connor said.
The meeting has been in the works since before the covid-19 pandemic, and now that it will be virtual it can bring together the official from Rochester, a health expert on lead impacts in children from Simon Fraser University based in British Columbia, Canada, and local officials.
“Zoom has its benefits at times,” O’Connor said of the online meeting program. “We think it’s an important conversation.”
Rochester has tackled its lead issues through an aggressive program started in 2005, when the city adopted a lead paint poisoning prevention ordinance. It’s proved to be successful and has been held up as a model for other cities to use, including Cleveland and Toledo.
Rochester worked on its lead issues by inspecting rental homes for lead levels, mainly in paint, instead of waiting for test results from children who were living in them.
Pittsburgh officials hope to learn what sort of protocols they can put into place when they inspect buildings to ensure they don’t have lead paint in them and how they can better monitor them, O’Connor said.