Pittsburgh Joins the List of U.S. Cities with Lead in Drinking Water

By Yessenia Funes Aug 05, 2016

Lead-tainted water isn’t just a problem in Flint, Michigan.

This week in Pittsburgh, the city’s Water and Sewer Authority reportedly sent 81,000 customers a letter informing them of elevated lead levels in their water. The letter states:

PWSA has already started water quality parameter monitoring, source water monitoring, public education, and lead service line replacement and is evaluating the effectiveness of corrosion control treatment and will continue these measures. PWSA will also continue to cooperate with [the Department of Environmental Protection] and the Allegheny County Health Department.

"The levels in Pittsburgh are comparable to those reported in Flint," said Marc Edwards, an environmental and water resources professor at Virginia Tech who has researched Flint, to the local WPXI news station. "I don’t think you have a Flint on your hand, but those levels are worrisome." 

Lead measurements in some areas of the Pennsylvania city read 22 parts per billion. The “safe” level is 15 parts per billion, but even that is dangerous for children, according to the CDC.

The disaster in Flint has opened the country’s eyes to how U.S. municipalities handle lead testing. Many, like Flint, cheat. So, too, do Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and others, according to a Guardian investigation

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver gave her State of the City speech last night, where she made the point that the lead crisis in Flint spurred actions on lead across the country.

“No other city―no other people―should have to go through what Flint and its residents have had to endure,” she said, according to the transcript. “As your mayor, I will do everything in my power to make sure Flint gets the help it needs to recover. With the right kind of assistance, I know that Flint will do more than survive. It will thrive.”