Pa. testing lead levels at county health building

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The state Department of Labor and Industry has begun investigating a complaint that high levels of lead dust are creating unhealthy conditions for almost 50 people in Building One of the Allegheny County Health Department's Clack Health Center in Lawrenceville.

Two state investigators started going through Building One and interviewing workers there today, based on a complaint filed by one of those workers, Nina Ewall, an inspector with the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

She said tests done in the program's second-floor office found lead dust levels 150 times higher than the 250 micrograms per square foot threshold that would trigger a remediation and cleaning recommendation by the program. Ms. Ewall said she filed the complaint because supervisors knew about those findings since August but took no action to clean or properly maintain the 90-year-old brick building. Recent research shows exposure to lead can cause serious health problems in adults.

Last week the county said it will begin to evaluate lead exposure risks in all seven Clack Health Center buildings, including the Childhood Lead Prevention Program offices and all three floors of Building One. Also last week, County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dixon informed all 44 county program employees, plus the cleaning crew and three painters, that they should have their blood lead levels tested at county expense. He set a sign-up deadline for this Friday and said results could be available 10 days later.


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