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Is Lead in Your Drinking Water?

Posted on December 22, 2020 by

Is Lead in Your Drinking Water?

When you turn on the faucet to get a drink of water, the last thing you want to worry about is whether the water is safe to drink. Because lead and other toxic chemicals like PFAS can’t be detected by appearance or taste, testing water is the only way to know if it is safe. Regulations require periodic testing of public water supplies for lead. 

Since the primary source of lead in the drinking water is lead pipes that bring the water to the house, (lead service lines) from the bigger water main, an improved way of testing is revealing that many public water supplies have elevated lead levels.

Currently in Michigan, at least 20 public water systems have elevated lead levels that violate state regulations (above 15 parts per billion or ppb). There is no safe amount of lead in drinking water. Lead was detected above 1 ppb in over 900 public water systems. Clearly, we have a lead problem.

Exposure to lead in drinking water, as well as other sources such as lead paint, or dust from demolition is never safe.  Lead is extremely toxic and harmful to people of all ages.  In children it affects brain development and can reduce IQ and contribute to behavioral problems. In adults it increases cardiac disease, harms kidneys, and causes reproductive problems. A recent study estimated that for each lead service line replaced it would save $22,000 by reducing cardiac health problems. Considering the average cost to replace a lead line is $5,000 that is a sizable return on investment.

Freshwater Future is here to support residents and communities with reducing lead in drinking water. We hosted two webinars to help community members understand the regulations and provide guidance on how to push for solutions for communities with elevated lead levels, based on The Lead and Copper Rule Handbook developed by our partners at the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.  The webinars can be viewed online (No fee to view, but registration is required)

The Flint Water Crisis and the 2020 election reminded us that democracy is not a spectator sport. Our government functions best when residents are engaged, asking questions, and participating in forming solutions. If your community has elevated lead, we are here to support you.

@FreshwaterFutur

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.