PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Starting mid-week, water filters – which purify drinking water – will go to some 1,600 city residents, who are first in line to receive the scientifically-certified half gallon pitchers.

The pitchers are made by Zero Water and filter lead and other fine particles using activated carbon.

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So far, there are 6,000 requests from people in the city of Pittsburgh who have requested the free filters. The first priority is going to be expectant mothers and families who have children under the age of 6.

The issue stems from elevated levels of lead in the city’s water system.

The Environmental Protection Agency says Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is the second largest water system in the country with elevated lead levels.

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PWSA and the city are footing the bill for the water filters, pitching in $250,000 each, along with a $500,000 donation from Peoples Gas.

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The filters are the short-term fix. Long term is to replace aging lead service lines leading into homes.

In the meantime, the city has put out some tips to help reduce your exposure to lead in your water. Those include:

  • Running water for a minute, using toilets, washing clothes or showering to flush out lead before drinking the water.
  • Using cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Avoid using hot water since lead dissolves more easily.
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The city says it’ll be in touch with the first batch of people who’ve requested the free filters. They’ll be distributed at fire stations throughout the city.