Lead tainted water is not an isolated problem in our country. Research confirms that the “problem could be very, very big.”
USA Today reports:
The EPA estimates that about 90,000 public schools and half a million child-care facilities are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act because they depend on water sources such as municipal utilities expected to test their own water. That means parents have no assurance lead isn’t seeping into children’s water from a school building’s pipes, solder or fixtures.
The federal government requires only about 10% of the nation’s schools and a tiny fraction of day cares — the 8,225 facilities that run their own water systems — to test for lead at all.
The report includes a map indicating the number of times water supplied to schools and day cares tested for high levels of lead between 2012-2105.
Oregon was right in the middle, so we are nowhere near exempt from lead tainted drinking water for our children.
As I listened to this news report today, the reporter said that “the water tested in one community was classified as hazardous waste!”
USA Today Network investigative reporter Alison Young tells us:
“One of the huge issues in our country is that for decades, we used lead to create water pipes. We need to be checking out our homes for lead in our pipes in the same way that we worry about lead-based paint.”
Lead plumbing was finally banned in 1986. Even in small doses, it’s considered dangerous and could lead to brain damage, reduced IQs and other health problems.
The report goes on to say that water utilities put additives in the water to prevent aging lead pipes from corroding. They also regularly test homes that are considered high-risk.
But CEO of the American Water Works Association, David LaFrance, says more needs to be done.
“As long as we have lead, there will be some risk that lead will get into the water. And the best way to solve that problem is to simply get the lead out,” LaFrance said.
LaFrance’s group said there are still 6.1 million lead lines in use, serving up to 22 million people, and that it could take as much as $30 billion to replace them all.
“But even if we remove all the lead service lines, there is still some risk that can occur if there is plumbing in the home that contains lead,” LaFrance said.
Recently, a blood test on a 7-year-old found more than twice the average level of lead for young children, even though as far as anyone knows he’s never come in contact with lead paint or tainted soil.
USA Today concludes:
The EPA advises schools and day cares to test for lead even if they’re not required to under the agency’s Lead and Copper Rule and work to reduce the toxin.
But a growing chorus of researchers, activists, parents and school officials say this isn’t enough and that all schools and day cares should have to test for lead.
The mother of the 7-year old boy who tested with twice the amount of lead in his body said, “Our children are drinking this water every day; the fact it doesn’t always have to be tested kind of blows my mind.”
President and CEO Ruth Ann Norton of Green and Healthy Homes Initiative, an anti-lead advocacy group. “These are our children. This is poison. It’s a toxin being ingested, and that should never be OK under any circumstances.”
Take action to protect your family
What do we do?
- Some water utilities may come test your water for lead. While this seems the most logical route, we have evidence that the results aren’t reliable. In Ohio, lead was detected in the drinking water in August, but residents weren’t notified until January.
- You can hire a plumber to come inspect your pipes, but plumbers aren’t cheap.
- You can buy water test kits to test your water supply yourself. This still doesn’t address the tainted water supply in schools and day cares.
- Send our kiddos to school with a handy, plastic water bottle and educate them that “we drink water from home.” Not a very realistic rule. Plus there’s the whole plastic water bottle problem.
Health experts advise us to drink plenty of water every day, but recent research tells us plastic water bottles leak toxins into our water in warm temperatures.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advises:
First, try to identify and remove the lead source. If you have a private well, check both the well and the pump for potential lead sources. A licensed well water contractor can help you determine if any of the well components are a source of lead.
Heating or boiling your water will not remove lead. Because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process, the lead concentration of the water can actually increase slightly as the water is boiled.
(One city in Michigan advised its residents with tainted lead in their water supplies to boil the water first to remove the lead.)
If it is not possible or cost-effective to remove the lead source, flushing the water system before using the water for drinking or cooking may be an option.
Any time a particular faucet has not been used for several hours (approximately 6 or more), you can flush the system by running the water for about 1-2 minutes or until the water becomes as cold as it will get.
Flush each faucet individually before using the water for drinking or cooking. You can use the water flushed from the tap to water plants, wash dishes or clothing, or clean.
Avoid cooking with or drinking hot tap water because hot water dissolves lead more readily than cold water does. Do not use hot tap water to make cereals, drinks or mix baby formula. You may draw cold water after flushing the tap and then heat it if needed.
You may also wish to consider water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, distillation, and carbon filters specially designed to remove lead. Typically these methods are used to treat water at only one faucet.
Contact your local health department for recommended procedures. If you want to know more about these filters, please contact NSF International, an organization for public health and safety through standards development, product certification, education, and risk management.
In the Portland area, follow this link to contact your local water utility.
In the Klamath Falls area, follow this link to contact local water utility.
Trending health news suggests the best way to get the proper amount of water each day is to ‘eat your water.’ Vegetables and fruits are loaded with water – and no lead.
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