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Vice President Kamala Harris to visit Pittsburgh on Friday to tout infrastructure dollars to replace lead pipes

Vice President Kamala Harris

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris will visit Pittsburgh on Friday to tout federal infrastructure funds that will be used to remove and replace lead pipes that carry drinking water to millions of American households.

Ms. Harris will be accompanied by Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan to discuss the allocation of $15 billion under the November infrastructure law to replace lead service lines across the U.S.

Up to 10 million American households connect to water through lead pipes and service lines, and roughly 400,000 schools and child care facilities are at risk of exposure to lead in their water, according to figures provided by the administration.

Lead, even at low levels, can cause long-term physical and behavioral issues for children. Those impacts are irreversible and can include decreasing IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems and anemia, according to the EPA.

“That is why the president and vice president made replacing lead pipes a centerpiece of the bipartisan infrastructure law — to deliver clean drinking water to families and children across America,” a White House official said Wednesday.

An estimated 400 children in Pittsburgh are diagnosed each year with lead poisoning, according to the Get the Lead Out Pittsburgh, a public awareness campaign. Exposure can stem from lead in drinking water and in paint.

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority identified high water lead levels in its system in 2016 and has since been working to replace all the lead pipes in the system. It also started adding orthophosphate to the drinking water supply in 2019 to reduce lead leaching out of pipes and into the water.

As of June, PWSA had replaced just over 9,100 public and 6,000 private lead service lines using a combination of federal and state funding. In March, the agency began prioritizing the replacement of lead lines located near child care centers.

Neighborhood lines are being replaced this year in Elliott and North and South Oakland. Additionally, as the agency replaces approximately 8 miles of water mains, some nearly a century old, lead service lines will also be removed and replaced in Highland Park, Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Point Breeze and Central Oakland.

Lead pipes are likely to be found in older cities.

The time and location of Ms. Harris’ visit have not yet been announced.

Read the full story here.

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