Health & Human Services: Fostering a Lead-safe Region

Given widespread public concern about the risks posed by lead contamination, the Institute’s Health and Human Services Committee, co-chaired by Dan Frankel, PA House Representative, and Leslie Osche, Butler County Commissioner, determined that the region would benefit from further assessment of the problem, as well as the exploration of possible solutions by the Institute. This work culminated in an educatonal forum and the Lead-safe Demolition Working Group Report

Lead-safe Demolition Working Group Report

In response to a request from the Allegheny County Health Department, the Institute’s Health and Human Services Policy Committee formed the Lead-safe Demolition Working Group, a special committee to draft a model lead-safe demolition ordinance for municipalities in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It was chaired by Dan Frankel and Leslie Osche, and the working group included local and state government officials, nonprofit and community leaders, and academics from throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. Its work examined current regional demolition practices and national best practices in municipal lead-safe demolition. Released in fall 2019, The Lead-safe Demoliton Working Group Report the report provides guidance for the development of an ordinance that offers
regulatory requirements for lead-safe demolitions adapted from national best practices, as well as recommendations for community education efforts, a pilot project and opportunities to attain additional funding.

Since the release of the report, Allegheny County has adopted the Act 152 fee which will drastically increase the amount of available funding for demolition within the county. Additionally, the Tri-COG Land Bank and Conservation Consultants, Inc. have conducted the first lead-safe demolition pilot study in Millvale. This pilot will test the benefits and challenges related to the implmentation of lead-safe demolition guidelines. 

Creating Healthy Communities: Get the Lead Out Conference

The Institute’s Health and Human Services Policy Committee agreed to participate in and support an event entitled Creating Healthy Communities: Get the Lead Out Conference sponsored by the local nonprofit Women for a Healthy Environment (WHE) and a variety of other regional partners. The event, held in May 2018 and pictured above, featured as its keynote speaker noted epidemiologist Dr. Bruce Lanphear, who informed attendees that there is no safe level of lead. At all levels, lead has been found to cause developmental delays in children, and can possibly be a contributing factor in a number of diseases affecting adults as well. Other speakers included Dr. Pamela Pugh, the chief public health advisor for the City of Flint, Michigan, who discussed her city’s response to their water crisis. WHE also brought in experts from a variety of municipalities who offered best practices in addressing the various sources of lead: water, soil, and paint/dust. Following the presentations, participants helped to identify potential next steps for the region to address lead exposure through a decision-tree exercise lead by the Luma Institute. The event served as a launching pad for further discussions on a region-wide lead prevention strategy.