Hidden Poison

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.

Jake Savitz / 90.5 WESA

While federal and state environmental regulators are in town this week examining the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s treatment processes, a city-hired consultant is working on its final recommendations to completely restructure the agency.

Governor Tom Wolf / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Senate could vote Monday or Tuesday on whether to put the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority under state oversight.

A bill that would empower the Public Utility Commission to oversee the embattled agency has been pending before the full Senate since June 30. When the chamber returns from summer recess Monday, it will have two days to act on the measure. Without action by Tuesday, the bill will be removed from the Senate calendar with the possibility of later consideration.

Michigan State University

The Heinz Family Foundation has announced the winners of this year’s Heinz Awards, which honor people who are breaking barriers in their fields and making a global impact.

New Report Recommends Ways To Prevent And Respond To Childhood Lead Exposure

Sep 5, 2017
Marcus Charleston / 90.5 WESA

The water and lead crisis in Flint Michigan and parts of Pennsylvania has shone a national spotlight on he problem of childhood lead exposure.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

A Department of Health report out this week has shown that only 28 percent of Pennsylvania children undergo recommended lead testing.

Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center via Facebook

A Pennsylvania wildlife center says a 30-year-old bald eagle that was being treated for lead poisoning has died less than two weeks after two other eagles died of the same cause.

The Tamarack Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center in Saegertown announced the bird's death on Facebook on Sunday.

The bird was captured Aug. 13 after it allowed people to get unusually close. Blood tests confirmed lead poisoning.

Teens Earn And Learn While Educating Their Neighbors About Lead Exposure

Aug 17, 2017
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

It’s a hot, sunny day in August, and high school students Mckayla Dixon, Anesa Reed, and Keith Jamison are working their summer jobs. The three teenagers are pounding the pavement, walking up and down hills, with clipboards in hand, hoping to talk with residents in Pittsburgh’s Lincoln-Lemington neighborhood about their exposure to lead.

Gene J. Puskar / AP

Pennsylvania wildlife officials say a bald eagle that is suffering from lead poisoning is in guarded condition.

The bird was letting people get close to it on a wildlife trail near Apollo over the weekend. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports it was taken to a wildlife center in Saegertown, where blood tests confirmed it had lead poisoning.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council unanimously passed two measures Tuesday to clear the pipeline for removing and replacing the city’s lead water service lines.

The first measure allows the city to work with property owners to replace lead service lines on private property. The second requires property sellers to test for lead pipes and disclose those findings to the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

Kamil Kaczor / Flickr

Officials announced Tuesday that PWSA is back in compliance with federal standards for lead levels in drinking water. The next day, City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it replaces the public side.

Irina Zhorov / Keystone Crossroads

Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would allow the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to replace the private side of residential lead service lines when it is also replacing the public side.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority announced Tuesday that it is now in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency standards for lead levels in drinking water.

Paul McCarthy / Flickr

As part of an ongoing project to map all water lines in the city, two contract crews for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority will inspect water line connections in parts of the North Side over the next two weeks.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

For the fourth week in a row, Pittsburgh City Council will not discuss a pair of lead-related bills at its committee meeting this week.

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

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.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council approved on Wednesday a proposed mandate to perform blood lead level testing on all children between 9 and 12 months of age and again at age two.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Council is expected to vote Wednesday evening on a proposed mandate for blood lead testing for all children between nine and twelve months of age, and again at age 2.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

While being grilled by the Pittsburgh City Council during a reappointment hearing Wednesday, PWSA board member and City Department of Finance Treasurer Margaret Lanier said dealing with lead needs to be the system’s top priority.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The city of Pittsburgh is dealing with a slight hiccup in its water filter distribution program.

A truck carrying Zero Water filtration pitchers from El Paso, Texas to Pittsburgh broke down, causing a delay in the distribution of the pitchers.

Pitchers will be distributed at fire stations in the north and west regions of the city on Friday, June 30; in the eastern neighborhoods on Wednesday, July 5; and in southern neighborhoods on Thursday, July 6.

Irina Zhorov / Keystone Crossroads

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

Seth Perlman / AP

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said he's pursuing a new consent decree that would allow the state to take control over the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, including all pending lead line replacements. 

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is temporarily suspending its program to partially replace lead water service lines less than a month after it officially began.

Deciphering 'Lead Free' Labels At The Store Isn't Always Easy

May 25, 2017
Dennis Amith / Flickr

We’ve heard a lot about lead service lines after the Flint water crisis and Pittsburgh’s efforts to replace its old pipes. But that’s not the only way lead can get into your drinking water.

David Goldman / AP

Pittsburgh's primary is set, but election season is just getting underway. Politcal reporters Kevin Zwick of the Greensburg Tribune-Review and Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have more.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority to stop all partial lead line replacements in the city.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline

Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged there may be some merit to Democratic challenger Rev. John C. Welch's plan to limit lead in Pittsburgh's drinking water at a mayoral forum hosted by 90.5 WESA and The Incline on Tuesday.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Dr. Trina Peduzzi has been working with babies as a community pediatrician for the last 16 years and has taken care of hundreds of children with lead poisoning.

“Most parents who get the phone call from me are completely unaware that their child was exposed to lead,” she said. “If we do not look for this problem we will not find it.”

The Allegheny County Board of Health on Wednesday approved a regulation requiring children in Allegheny County to be tested for lead in their blood.

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