High Levels of Lead in Pittsburgh Drinking Water

For the second time in less than a year, Pittsburgh-area drinking water has been found to contain levels of lead that are above the state and federal action level. December calculations revealed that approximately 10 percent of the tap water examined has lead at 18 parts per billion while the federal action level allows a maximum of 15 parts per billion.

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that has served a variety of purposes for over 5,000 years. In pre-historic times, lead was used in clay pots, or as a cosmetic used to darken eyelids in places like Egypt. By 1900 lead was used throughout United States and typically found in paints, protective coatings, ceramic glazes, pewter, water lines and pipes. Lead is a soft metal that can be hammered and molded easily, but it is also dense. Its purpose in paints was highly useful as it made paint more durable and water resistant. The pigments found in lead are highly opaque, so small amounts of paint could be used to cover large areas.

Lead at one point was also an additive to gasoline. Environmental regulations in the 1980s caused shift in lead use, and today, lead is mainly used and found in car batteries.

Overtime, it was found that lead can be extremely toxic, especially for children under the age of six. High levels of lead in a persona can lead to joint, neurological, and reproductive damage. One of the greatest threats to children exposed to lead is brain damage or hindering of brain development, which can be irreversible and life altering.  Higher levels of lead found in adults, as well as children, can damage the nervous system and kidneys, while extremely high levels can cause unconsciousness and death.

Lead can even make its way into our drinking water. Waterlines and pipes made out of lead corrode and decay, leaving behind tiny fragments of lead to be carried away into our tap water and subsequently into our homes.  In the case of the water in Pittsburgh, PA the water itself does not contain lead, but the service lines that are falling apart do, and is carrying contaminated water to residents throughout the Pittsburgh area. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) tested the water in June 2016 and found lead at 22 parts per billion. The PWSA has replaced 240 lead service lines since June, but admitted that many of those water service lines are hard to locate.

It is not uncommon to find instances of lead use in city, urban dwellings, and older suburbs, but it can be difficult to pinpoint the area of exposure and the effects as well. The attorneys at Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., not only understand the laws and regulations about lead, but have experience with and knowledge of the many products, both general types and specific manufacturers, that used lead. Backed by legal and practical information, we are well equipped to handle your lead poisoning lawsuit.

Contact us today to speak with one of our lead exposure attorneys


Don Hopey, “Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Tests Find Lead Again,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (January 20, 2017). [Link]
S.J. Kropschot and Jeff L. Doebrich, “Uses of Lead,” United States Geological Survey. [Link]

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