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Tests show lead levels in Pittsburgh water have increased

A report released Monday said lead levels in Pittsburgh water have actually increased despite a growing awareness of the threat to residents.

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The new data is not what Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority wanted to hear – up until this latest round of testing, it appeared lead levels in Pittsburgh's drinking water were going down.

On Monday, the PWSA released the results of its most recent compliance testing required by law and the numbers aren't good.


For the past two years, lead levels in certain high-risk neighborhoods like North Side, Homewood, Squirrel Hill, Garfield and Brighton Heights appeared to be dropping. By last June, they hovered much nearer the acceptable range of 15 parts per billion, the Environmental Protection Agency standard.

But the December 2017 tests from dozens of high-risk homes show higher amounts of lead.

Four Pittsburgh homes had lead levels from 15 to 19 ppb, 11 had levels between 20 and 49 ppb and three homes tested higher than 50 ppb.

PWSA officials told Channel 11 "we are not satisfied with these lead levels" and "PWSA is doing everything possible to apply treatment improvements that have been shown to reduce levels of lead in other cities."

A chemical additive called ortho phosphate is used to lower leads levels, and the city needs approval to add it to the water supply from state regulators at the EPA. It wasn’t clear when that could happen.

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