Summary Information
Title: Allegheny County, Pa. Health Department Lead Survey Records
Collection Number: AIS.1990.14
Creator: Allegheny County (Pa.). Health Department.

Collection Dates: Bulk, 1974-1975
Collection Dates: 1971-1975
Extent: 28.75 linear feet

Language: English

The Allegheny County Health Department Lead Survey, 1971-1975, was part of a nationwide effort to identify and treat cases of lead poisoning in preschool children and to remove environmental lead hazards from their homes. The Lead Survey records consist of the Administrative series (correspondence within the department and with external agencies, grant applications, records of expenses, notes on department meetings, lead testing procedures, and equipment), the Blood Lead series (individuals’ blood lead test results and summaries of the data), and the Environmental Lead Abatement series (lead test results for individual addresses and composite data per region).

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

August 2005

Finding aid prepared by Donnis Headley.

The Allegheny County, Pa. Health Department Lead Survey Records span the years 1971 to 1975. It represents an early stage in the ongoing nationwide effort to improve children’s well being by eradicating unhealthful amounts of lead in their surroundings and bodies. Although it later became part of the national blood lead survey, Allegheny County’s Lead Survey began as a pilot study of a local blighted neighborhood. Tests of the neighborhood’s children showed that they had lower levels of lead exposure than their peers in other cities. Health Department officials sought to determine if the relatively low incidence of lead poisoning occurred because health care providers were not looking for it or because the Allegheny County children’s lives were somehow different from those of their counterparts in other cities. As explained in the Allegheny County Health Department‘s March 1, 1972 Lead Poisoning Control Program book (pages 3-4), “These questions concern us, and provide the basis for our interest in establishment of a lead poisoning control project in Allegheny County...” to gain answers and “provide ...effective lead poisoning detection.”

The Allegheny County Lead Survey project was performed under the leadership of Dr. Albert H. Brunwasser, with Drs. Penn Lupovic, Roger Juselius, and Richard Moriarty, assisted by Robert Kambic, Janet Bonk, nurses, laboratory personnel, and teams of paraprofessional workers who were recruited from local communities and trained in survey methods. The Health Department continued to assess and document lead levels in children’s blood and in their homes through 1975, when funding was discontinued. Although the Braddock, Hill District, Homestead, Homewood-Brushton, North Braddock, North Side-Manchester, Rankin, Turtle Creek Valley, and Wilkinsburg neighborhoods were surveyed, some areas of the County had not been studied at the program’s conclusion, and the reason for the lower-than-expected blood lead levels does not appear to have been found.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The records of the Allegheny County, Pa. Health Department Lead Survey date from 1971 to 1975. This collection falls into three main series: Administrative records, Blood Lead data, and Environmental Lead Abatement data.

The Administrative series affords an overview of the entire project through grant applications, correspondence, reports and publications, and notes on environmental lead testing equipment. Blood lead data makes up most of the collection, in amounts varying by year collected, rising to a 1974 peak. The Blood Lead series also includes permission slips, patient records (case files, index cards), and summaries of data. The Environmental Lead Abatement Data includes documentation on individual residences and summaries of this data grouped by census tract, street, and zip code.

All three series make reference to the “N.B.S.” This abbreviation stands for the National Bureau of Standards, whose personnel advised the administrators of local blood lead surveys during this period.

Subject Terms

  • Lead -- Toxicology -- Research -- Pennsylvania -- Allegheny County
  • Lead abatement -- Research -- Pennsylvania -- Allegheny County
  • Lead poisoning -- Research -- Pennsylvania -- Allegheny County

Corporate Names
  • Allegheny County (Pa.). Health Department.
  • Pennsylvania. Bureau of Community Environmental Control.
  • Pittsburgh (Pa.). Code Enforcement Advisory Committee.
  • Southwestern Pennsylvania Regional Planning Commission.
  • United States. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  • United States. National Bureau of Standards.

Personal Names
  • Bonk, Janet
  • Brunwasser, Albert H.
  • Juselius, Roger
  • Kambic, Robert
  • Lupino, Penn
  • Moriarty, Richard

  • Allegheny County (Pa.)
  • Braddock (Pa.)
  • Clairton (Pa.)
  • East Pittsburgh (Pa.)
  • Hill District (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Homestead (Pa.)
  • Homewood (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Manchester (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • McKeesport (Pa.)
  • North Braddock (Pa.)
  • North Side (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Oakland (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Pitcairn (Pa.)
  • Turtle Creek (Pa.)
  • Wilkinsburg (Pa.)

  • Correspondence
  • Questionnaires
  • Surveys (Documents)

  • Environment
  • Government
  • Health and medicine

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

This collection is for statistical use only. Qualified researchers shall make special application in writing to the Head of the Archives Service Center requesting access to the Records of the Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Health Department Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Project OR "Requests for use of the records shall be made in writing to the Chief of Biostatistics of the Allegheny County Health Department".

Acquisition Information:

Gift of Allegheny County Health Department, on October 9, 1991.

Preferred Citation:

Allegheny County, Pa. Health Department Lead Survey Records, 1971-1975, AIS.1990.14, Archives Service Center, University of Pittsburgh

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Donnis Headley in August 2005.


All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh.

Related Material:

The following four publications are available through the University Library System: Allegheny County Health Department Lead Based Paint Survey Manual. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Allegheny County Health Department.

Allegheny County Health Department Lead Poisoning Control Program. Pittsburgh, Pa.: Allegheny County Health Department, 1972.

Increased Lead Absorption and Lead Poisoning in Young Children: A Statement by the Center for Disease Control. U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Public Health Service. March 1975.

Lin-Fu, Jane S. Childhood Lead Poisoning…an Eradicable Disease. Reprinted by the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare, Health Services and Mental Health Administration, Maternal and Child Health Service, from Children, January-February 1970, No. 1, 2-9.

Collection Inventory

Series I. Administrative

Scope and Content Notes:

This series includes correspondence, quarterly and monthly reports, publications, grant applications, office management documents (memos, bills for supplies), subject files, and environmental lead abatement documents. The grant applications in Box 3, FF 7-10 provide an overview of the project, as does the Allegheny County Lead Poisoning Control Program publication in Box 3, FF 30, which may be compared to the County’s Lead Hazard Procedures and Project Retrospective publication (Box 3, FF 34), and the March 12, 1975 computer-generated ACHD-NBS Report of encoded data in Box 4. Also of interest are Box 1, FF 19 (a May 2, 1975 letter on hemoglobin and blood lead levels) and FF 24 (“Body Lead Kinetics”), which indicate possible alternative analyses for lead survey data.

Box 1
Folder 1-3 Contracts, undated
Folder 4-22 Correspondence, 1971-1975
Folder 23-25 Data handling, undated
Folder 26-31 Employee-related, undated
Folder 32 Publicity, undated
Folder 33-46 Reports, monthly, 1972-1974
Folder 47 System for doing quarterly reports, worksheets, undated

Box 2
Folder 1 Reports, 1972-1975
Folder 2 NBS work estimates and weekly reports, September 1974-January 1975
Folder 3-6 Reports, quarterly, 1972-1975
Folder 7 Report: NBS progress statement, undated
Folder 8 Results of meeting with HUD, WBS, ACHD, GSPH, 1975
Folder 9-16 Subject files, undated
Folder 17-21 Supplies ordered, undated
Folder 22 Budget uniform invoices, undated
Folder 23 Billing from Children's Hospital, 1973-1975
Folder 24-33 Billing from Clinical Pathology Laboratory, January-December 1974
Folder 34-39 Bills and invoices from Clinical Pathology Laboratory, February-July 1975
Folder 40 Lab accounting sheets (pigs' bloods), 1974-1975
Folder 41 Billing from Iron City University and Towel, undated

Box 3
Folder 1-6 Environmental lead abatement action taken, undated
Folder 7-10 Grant applications, 1972-1976
Folder 11-14 Forms, undated
Folder 15-26 Lead detector use and testing, undated
Folder 27-28 Lead paint poisoning control programs, Chicago and Philadelphia, undated
Folder 29 Legal action taken, undated
Folder 30-37 Publications by Allegheny County Health Department, National Bureau of Standards (NBS), Bureau of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW), undated

Box 4
Folder 1-3 Encoded data, undated
Folder 4 Encoded data-based ACHD-NBS Report, March 12, 1975

Series II. Blood Lead

Scope and Content Notes:

The bulk of raw data in this series consists of blood lead test results obtained by “micro-atomic absorption techniques (fingerstick).” These are referred to as “Micros” throughout the Lead Survey Collection documents. As stated on page 5 of the Allegheny County Health Department publication Lead Poisoning Control Program (found in box 3, the Administrative Series), these lead test results were interpreted as follows: 45 micrograms per 100 milliliters of whole blood (45 micrograms percent) will be interpreted as indicating exposure, with at least further observation warranted; 65 micrograms percent warrants close medical supervision; and 85 micrograms percent indicates lead poisoning and warrants immediate treatment. (Note: these critical blood-lead levels are of greater magnitude than the levels suggested by the Surgeon General because local experience has shown that an upward adjustment of 5 micrograms percent is necessary when the micro technique is used).

When lead exposure was noted, “further macro studies” (page 19, Lead Poisoning Control Program) were conducted. These are identified as “Macros” in the Lead Survey Collection. The “Child Health Conferences” mentioned in Box 16 contain appointments with Lead Study nurses to which parents brought their children. The Child Health Conference appointments, held at regional community centers, replaced the home visits made by Lead Study nurses at the beginning of the program. Box 17 consists of case files, and all but one, labeled “Industrial,” are for children suffering from lead poisoning. The numbered case files begin with “#0000016”, and with “#9000001.”

Box 5-7 Permission slips, alphabetized, undated

Box 8
Folder 1 Braddock, cases 1-28, undated
Folder 2 Combined housing and blood lead tests conducted by CMU students, 1972-1973
Folder 3-6 Lab and permission slips normal micro, 1972
Folder 7 Office copies normal and abnormal micro, 1972
Folder 8-19 Lab and permission slips normal micro, January-October 1973

Box 9
Folder 1-3 Lab copies and permission slips normal micro, August-December 1973
Folder 4-5 Lab copies and permissions slips abnormal micro, February-October 1973
Folder 6 Lab copies and permission slips abnormal micro and abnormal macro class III, January-September 1973
Folder 7 Lab copies and permission slips normal macro, February-October 1973
Folder 8-9 Office copies normal micro, July-December 1973
Folder 10 preschool children not tested, 1973
Folder 11-12 Federal and lab copies normal micro, January, April-June 1974
Folder 13-20 Federal copies initial, normal micro, April-August 1974

Box 10
Folder 1-10 Federal copies normal micro, May-September 1974
Folder 11 Federal copies normal micro ("duplicate forms not listed as duplicate on printouts"), July-September 1974
Folder 12-22 Federal copies normal micro, August-December 1974

Box 11
Folder 1-2 Federal copies normal micro, November-December 1974
Folder 3 Federal copies normal and abnormal micro, September-December 1974
Folder 4 federal copies repeat micro, September-December 1974
Folder 5-6 Federal copies normal and abnormal micro, October-December 1974
Folder 7-18 Lab copies normal micro, January-April 1974
Folder 19 Lab copies normal and abnormal micro, January-March 1974
Folder 20 Federal and lab micro: normal, abnormal, repeat, January-June 1974

Box 12
Folder 1-2 Federal and lab copies normal and abnormal microa and macro, January-April 1974
Folder 3 Federal and lab copies normal macro, March-July 1974
Folder 4 Lab copies Normal micro May 1974, abnormal micro May-June and November 1974, federal and lab copies normal and abnormal macro third quarter 1974, 1974
Folder 5 Federal copies normal and abnormal macro, October, December 1974
Folder 6 Federal copies initial macro, November-December 1974
Folder 7-16 Office copies normal micro, January-March 1974

Box 13
Folder 1-17 Office copies normal micro, March-December 1974

Box 14
Folder 1 Federal and office copies normal micro, January 1875
Folder 2-12 Federal copies normal micro, January-March 1975

Box 15
Folder 1-5 Federal copies normal micro, February-April 1975
Folder 6 Federal copies normal, rescreen, repeat, April-June 1975
Folder 7 Federal copies abnormal micro (40-49), January 1975
Folder 8 Federal copies initial and repeat micro, January 1975
Folder 9 Federal copies initial and repeat abnormals, April-June 1975
Folder 10 Federal copies micro rescreen, repeat abnormal and macro rescreen, repeat normal, April-May 1975
Folder 11 Federal copies micro rescreen, repeat normal and macro initial and repeat, June 1975
Folder 12-16 All bloods drawn, 1972/1973
Folder 17-21 All bloods drawn, request numbers 6-9 and 12, 1973
Folder 22-30 All bloods drawn in alphabetical order by name of phlebotomist, 1973-1974

Box 16
Folder 1-7 Blood leads grouped by neighborhood, undated
Folder 8-12 All bloods drawn, request numbers 6-9 and 1291-1614, 1974
Folder 13-18 All bloods drawn in alphabetical order by name of phlebotomist, 1974-1975
Folder 19-23 Clinical pathology results, March-December 1975
Folder 24-29 Clinic control rosters, 1973-1974
Folder 30 Clinic schedules, 1973
Folder 31 School lead testing, 1973
Folder 32-34 Child health conferences, 1974
Folder 35-48 Child health conferences, 1974-1975

Box 17
Folder 1-14 Case files without case numbers, undated
Folder 15-96 Numbered case files: #0000016-0000022, #9000001-9100085, undated

Series III. Environmental Lead Abatement

Scope and Content Notes:

The Environmental Lead Abatement Data includes evidence of census ranking to select areas to be surveyed, and site surveys of facilities and homes (arranged by census tract, street, zip code, year, and survey team). Box 18 also contains one file on the 1973 Christmas Toy Survey (analysis of lead content of purchased toys) and two files containing analyses of facilities for children, apparently completed at the institutions’ request.

Box 18
Folder 1-5 Census tract ranking for lead sampling, undated
Folder 6 Survey Areas, McKeesport and North Side, undated
Folder 7-48 Surveys of Buildings #1-43 in Hawkins Village, Rankin, Pa., 1973
Folder 49-60 Surveys of Buildings #1-12 in Mapleview Terrace, Braddock, Pa., 1973
Folder 61-71 Surveys of Buildings #1-11 in Prospect Terrace, East Pittsburgh, Pa., 1973
Folder 72-76 Surveys of Talbot Towers Buildings A-E, 1973
Folder 77 Macro Survey, 1973
Folder 78 522 Tenth St., Pitcairn, Pa., 1973
Folder 79 Notes, 1973
Folder 80 Surveys of lead-poisoned children's residences, 1972-1973
Folder 81 Homes surveyed but blood tests refused for resident children, undated
Folder 82 Soil and water surveys, June 1973
Folder 83 Surveys grouped by census and zip codes, 1974
Folder 84-87 Team lead housing reports, tallies, 1974-1975
Folder 88 Christmas toy survey, 1973
Folder 89-90 Public facilities surveys, undated
Folder 91 Clairton-Blair Heights survey, 1973

Box 19
Folder 1-6 Dwelling unit surveys in census tracts #306-371, undated
Folder 7-32 Dwelling unit surveys grouped by first letter of street name, A-W,Y,Z, undated
Box 20-23 Mailing materials (appointment cards, envelopes - addressed, not sent), undated