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PITTSBURGH – The Lead Task Force released its final report on lead exposure in Allegheny County Tuesday morning.

Lead exposure is a growing concern across the country. It’s not just in the water; Lead can be found in old paint, dust, the soil and more.

Experts made 24 recommendations in their final report. They were broken down into four main categories: controlling sources of lead, monitoring and reporting exposure, investigating hazards, and educating the public about the risks of lead exposure.

They also say curbing lead exposure in children needs to be a priority, and that steps need to be taken to remove lead from places where children spend most of their time. Those places include schools, child care facilities and their homes.

Mandatory lead testing of young children begins in Allegheny County in January. Exceptions will be made for families who object for medical, moral or religious reasons, but experts agree, the tests will help keep children safe. Exposure to lead can lead to behavioral disorders, lower IQs, aggressiveness or hyperactivity.

Allegheny County’s 2018 budget also allocates money to hire two additional lead inspectors, bringing the county’s total to three. They’ll visit homes that are known to have elevated levels of lead.

They will also focus on “at risk” communities. Experts say certain factors, such as the education level of residents, the local poverty rate and the age of homes can all play a role. In Allegheny County alone, about 60 percent of the housing stock was built before 1950.

To help make safety improvements more affordable, the county started the Allegheny Lead Safe Homes Program.

Qualifying families can get free lead paint testing, low-cost home repairs and more.

There are some income requirements, and families have to have a child younger than 6, or a woman who is pregnant, living in the home. But, experts say lead exposure is dangerous, and needs to be addressed.

Kristine Sorensen