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Pittsburgh's history of lead in our water, paint, and soil continues to have enormous repercussions for the area's public health. Hidden Poison is a series on lead problems and solutions, reported by public media partners 90.5 WESA News, Allegheny Front, PublicSource, and Keystone Crossroads. Read more at our website: hiddenpoison.org.

Citing Flint, PA Lawmakers Cry Lead On Wolf Administration

Carolyn Kaster

  For Pennsylvania lawmakers, the problem of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan has served as a rallying cry, a teachable moment and, now, a political cudgel.

This month, House and Senate members were determined not to waste Michigan’s crisis, invoking it to propel their own efforts to minimize lead exposure from old house paint and water pipes. But as some touted legislation, one House Republican criticized the governor’s office for not springing into action in the same way.

“There seems to be no plan on a state level,” said Rep. John Maher (R-Allegheny). “At the risk of sounding a little partisan, I’ll ask the question they asked in Flint: What’s the governor doing?”

Jeff Sheridan, the governor’s spokesman, responded that Maher “has not introduced legislation to address this problem at any point over the last 15 years.”

Governor Tom Wolf’s office said plans are now in the works to look for money for additional lead abatement and to encourage health care providers to test young children for lead. The governor supports mandatory lead testing of all children.

The administration points out it already monitors available lead testing results among children and has ways to address high lead levels in drinking water tested by suppliers.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Health Department also notes the state hotline for lead-related questions: 1-800-440-LEAD.

WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.