Institute of Politics

Lead

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. The goal of the project is to increase the baseline of information about the impacts of lead on human growth and development, the primary sources of lead in the region, and best practices from around the country in terms of remediation.

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. For more information about the event, please visit the event page here.

Currently, the Institute is forming a lead-safe demolition working group, which will include representatives from municipal government, leaders of nonprofit and advocacy organizations with expertise in this area, public health experts, and individuals with knowledge of current building codes and demolition practices. The group expects to begin meeting in September 2018, and it is expected that the work will conclude in January/February 2019.

Photo by the Centers for Diesase Control and Prevention