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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.

Lead Task Force Members Comb Through Reports In Hope Of Making Recommendations By November

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA
A task force of nine doctors, engineers and policy experts will meet to figure out how to address lead in water, soil and housing in Allegheny County.

A task force formed in May to make recommendations on policies and programs to protect Allegheny County residents from lead is hoping to provide its suggestions by November.

The nine-member task force will hold its third meeting Friday.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Karen Hacker is leading the task force. She said the first step was for her and the other eight members to dig into the slew of new reports on the health impacts of lead released in the last half decade and glean the best material from each.

“They don’t all say exactly the same thing and I think part of the challenge, of course, is to determine what policies might work here in Allegheny County and which of them potentially have the most impact,” Hacker said.

The group, which includes medical doctors, engineers and policy experts, is meeting roughly every three weeks and talking to experts between those meetings.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do is to get folks who have a very high level of understanding about the science, but then also folks who are on the ground and who are actually trying to implement programing,” Hacker said.

The task force has broken the issue into three segments: lead in water, lead in soil and lead in housing, with the hope of writing recommendations for policies and programs tailored to Allegheny County. However, Hacker said she thinks other cities and counties could benefit from the work.

She said the task force represents a rare opportunity for the county to “dig deeply into an issue in a way that we don’t always have the luxury to do” and make long-lasting recommendations.

Hacker said the only instruction members were given was to follow the science.

What's at stake and candidate profiles for statewide races and competitive primaries in Allegheny County.