In response to recent studies which show dangerous levels of lead in public drinking water, over 60 members of Congress have signed a letter calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lower the federal standard for lead in drinking water.
Members of Congress want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lower the federal standard for lead in drinking water in an effort to protect the public from dangerous health effects. More than sixty members of Congress signed a letter asking the EPA to lower the threshold for taking action on water contamination. The letter was signed by 59 Democrats and two Republicans.
Currently water systems exceed the lead standard, also known as the action level – when more than 10% of water samples show lead levels above 15 parts per billion. The letter asks the EPA to align with the World Health Organization’s guidelines for lead contamination by reducing the action level to 10 parts per billion.
“There is lead in the water supply…The threshold needs to be lowered so we don’t put children at risk like we’re now putting children at risk,” U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. told USA Today. “This is a health issue in the United States.”
The letter notes that the current lead action level was “developed in 1991 based on the practical feasibility at that time of reducing lead through controlling corrosion.” Lead has been linked to a number of health problems, causing lowered IQ, and behavioral and developmental problems in babies and children. Although the action level is not a “health based standard,” the lawmakers hope that a lowered standard could trigger “public notification and other actions to reduce the public’s exposure to lead drinking water contamination.”
A previous USA Today investigation found lead contamination in nearly 2,000 public water systems across the United States between 2012 and 2015. The USA Today investigation was not the only study to find dangerous amounts of lead in public drinking water. The Free Thought Project recently reported on a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council:
In fact, 5,363 water systems in the U.S. in 2015 violated the federal Lead and Copper Rule — putting around 18 million people at risk of consuming those contaminants — and virtually none of those responsible faced any penalties, much less criminal charges.
Both the NRDC and USA Today studies complement another recent investigation conducted by researchers with Quest Diagnostics in St. Louis, Missouri. “Researchers examined more than 5.2 million blood lead level test results for infants and children under 6 years of age over a six-year period ending in April 2015,” Reuters reports. “They found 3.1 percent of boys and 2.8 percent of girls had blood lead levels exceeding what the CDC considers safe.”
Six regions contained unsafe blood lead levels in more than 14 percent of kids, including Syracuse, Buffalo and Poughkeepsie in New York; Oil City and York in Pennsylvania; and Cincinnati, Ohio. The study authors noted that all of these high lead regions were old industrial cities.
Much of the focus on lead poisoning comes after the disastrous situation in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been dealing with water laced with high amounts of lead for the last two years. In fact, a State of Emergency was declared in Flint due to the lead poisoning and a dangerous increase in Legionnaires’ Disease in January.
Unsurprisingly, President Obama, federal officials, and local government agents have continued to downplay the danger of high amounts of lead in the public drinking water. Obama even went so far to mockingly drink water that was supposedly from Flint, telling residents that it was safe to drink as long as it had been filtered. One wonders if President Obama will drink another glass of the tainted water now that Congress is bringing attention to the issue and study after study confirm the danger of high amounts of lead.
I wouldn’t hold my breath. And I wouldn’t drink the water either.
Derrick is available for interviews, please contact [email protected]
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