South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

City Council passes ordinance to prevent lead poisonings


Last updated 12/8/2021 at 7:49pm

During last week's Regular Council Meeting, Pittsburgh City Council voted on final passage of an ordinance to reduce lead exposure and poisonings in the city. 

The legislation includes the following measures to decrease lead poisonings:

• The addition of professional lead assessments to routine inspections of rental units built before 1978. If found, the lead must be remedied, and the property will be subject to a reinspection. This is consistent with other cities like Rochester, New York, which has the gold standard of ordinances.

• The creation of a registry of child care facilities and required inspections for lead.

• The requirement of city-licensed general contractors to get lead renovation, repair and painting (RRP) certified. The Departments of Permits, Licenses, and Inspections (PLI) will provide educational materials for other people who apply for construction permits. Those permit applicants must verify they will conduct their work in a lead-safe manner.

• The commitment by the City of Pittsburgh to conduct demolitions of city-owned and funded buildings to be completed in a lead-safe manner as well as to renovate and repair its own buildings in a lead-safe manner. 

• The addition of filters to sinks and fountains in city buildings.

"One child with elevated lead levels in their body is one too many. The passage of this important bill, the Pittsburgh Lead Safety Law, moves us closer to protecting all of Pittsburgh's children and residents from lead poisoning," said Councilperson Erika Strassburger.

"Our houses and built environment are key factors in our health and we have a responsibility to protect their occupants from harm," said Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor. "This legislation is a step forward to better secure the public and environmental health and safety of our residents while we continue to confront Pittsburgh's legacy lead issues." 

"I have been impressed by the leadership of my colleagues on Council and the Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh Campaign, this bill is absolutely instrumental in helping to fight childhood lead poisoning," said Pittsburgh City Councilman Bobby Wilson. "Pittsburgh has over 50,000 rental units built before 1978. This bill will help us ensure that the children living in these units are protected from the long-term health effects of lead exposure. I hope this also helps to bring awareness to parents that it is so important to be proactive and check your home for lead before you begin simple home repairs. Chipping paint from old windows, doors, and other architectural details, and even contaminated soil are the leading causes of lead poisoning in children."

From 2015 through 2019, 849 children in the City of Pittsburgh were confirmed with lead poisoning. In 2020, Pittsburgh City Council committed to addressing the legacy issues related to lead in the city during National Lead Poisoning week. Councilmembers Deb Gross, Corey O'Connor, Erika Strassburger, and Bobby Wilson have been working with advocates from the Get the Lead Out Coalition for almost two years to draft and pass legislation to decrease the number of lead poisonings in the city.

"We are deeply grateful for Pittsburgh City Council's work to begin to address the legacy lead poisoning problem in our city," said Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, executive director, Women for a Healthy Environment and supporter of the Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh campaign. "We realize this is just the beginning, so we look forward to working with the City to both implement the Pittsburgh Lead Safety Law and develop accompanying regulations to strengthen it, until we've eliminated all the ways our children are exposed to lead, from their rental homes to the places where they learn and play."


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