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Environment & Energy
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:

Allegheny County Already Has A Lead Task Force. Now The State Wants One, Too

Irina Zhorov
Keystone Crossroads

The Pennsylvania Senate unanimously agreed Tuesday to create a bipartisan group tasked with investigating lead exposure in the state.

Democratic Senator John Yudichak of Luzerne and Carbon counties introduced the resolution. He said several state agencies already work on lead-exposure education or research.

“We want to examine whether or not that fragmented system, fragmented policies, whether or not we can put together a better strategy for dealing with lead,” he said.

Allegheny County launched its own lead task force earlier this year.

At the state level, lawmakers have introduced legislation to give the state Public Utility Commission oversight of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. Mayor Bill Peduto has also said a consent agreement between the authority and the state Department of Environmental Protection could be in the works.

PWSA has been plagued with lead levels exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency's lead action level of 15 parts per billion. Partial lead line replacements were halted earlier this month.

It's a problem in old homes and water systems and is affecting children and elderly Pennsylvanians, Yudichak said.

The task force would consist of legislators and experts. A report would be due within 18 months to include best practices, suggestions for funding lead abatement programs and assessments of lead-exposure threats in structures where children spend a significant amount of time.