These sources of lead could contaminate your home’s water, even if the overall water in your area is safe. As Pittsburgh’s water equity task force has shown, such problems disproportionately affect people of color and residents of low-income neighborhoods, who are more likely to live in areas with underfunded or outdated infrastructure.
It’s also worth noting that water isn’t the top cause of lead poisoning in Allegheny County (even if it’s the first one that comes to mind for most people). According to recent Allegheny County Health Department inspections, paint and dust are bigger threats. With that in mind, this guide includes information about testing for lead in these other sources, too.
If you detect lead in your home, take it seriously. Lead is a neurotoxin that can be dangerous even in small amounts. Elevated lead levels in children can cause problems with brain and nervous system development, behavior, learning, speech and hearing. Prolonged exposure in adults can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and fertility issues, plus short-term symptoms like nausea and memory loss or distractibility.
How do I figure out if there’s lead in my house or water?
If you’re concerned about your lead exposure, you might opt for a full home lead risk assessment. This assessment, performed by professionals, includes tests of your paint, dust and soil — the most common sources of lead exposure — as well as your water, if that seems like a risk factor in your case.
As part of the local “Get the Lead Out, Pittsburgh” initiative, coordinated by the nonprofit Women for a Healthy Environment, you could be eligible for a free or reduced-cost lead risk assessment. Fill out this form to register.
The Allegheny County Health Department also provides some free resources to qualifying households. These resources include blood lead level testing for children who are uninsured or underinsured and free full home lead assessments for households with children whose blood lead levels are elevated by the Center for Disease Control’s standards (above 5 ppb). The ACHD’s “Get Ahead of Lead” resource list contains more information and instructions for who to contact.
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