County health workers to be tested for lead
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Allegheny County employees working in Building One at the Clack Health Center in Lawrenceville, where tests have found extremely high lead dust levels, can have a precautionary blood test done at county expense, according to an e-mail memo sent to the employees this morning by county Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dixon.
In the e-mail to 44 employees in the 90-year-old, poorly maintained three-story brick building, Dr. Dixon said that while he does not feel the lead exposure "poses a great hazard" he is recommending the voluntary lead blood level test to "ensure that no one has a high level."
The e-mail said the blood tests will be done in the TB program office on the first floor of Building One and submitted to a licensed independent laboratory for analysis. He asked all employees to get tested by next Friday, and said results should be available the following week.
The test results will be given to the individual employees and not shared with other employees or others outside the health department, Dr. Dixon said in the e-mail.
"I recognize that there is not a consistent opinion among health providers as to the risks involved in working in a lead containing building," said Dr. Dixon in the e-mail. "Testing will be voluntary but I encourage each of you to be tested."
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry said it would investigate the potential health hazard to employees exposed to high lead levels in Building One, located at the corner of Penn Avenue and 40th Street, where renovations have been dragging on for more than five years.
Nina Ewall, an inspector in the county's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, located on the second floor of the building, said "wipe sample" tests done since February have found high levels of lead in the dust on a variety of second- and third-floor office windowsills. She said supervisors have known about those findings since August.
First Published January 8, 2010 1:04 pm