Public Health and Lead in Water: Our View

Posted on August 28, 2020 by

Freshwater Future has worked for years to help ensure people can protect themselves from lead and other contaminants in drinking water, and one thing is clear to us: there is no safe level of lead. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has long held “the best available science which shows there is no safe level of exposure to lead.” Our work in partnership with the Flint Development Center and the University of Michigan Biological Station laboratory have also clearly indicated that when there is lead in drinking water, filters reduce the amount of lead when used and maintained properly.

In Michigan, a revised Lead and Copper Rule now has communities utilizing a new testing protocol that is more accurate at finding lead at the tap. Unfortunately, as communities and water systems are learning they are out of compliance with the rule, we have not heard strong recommendations for using filters in these communities coming either from the state or municipalities. Instead, we have seen alerts and educational materials that recommend filters only for pregnant women and children.

While we agree that children and pregnant women should use filtered water in communities out of compliance with the rule, we strongly believe EVERYONE in these communities should utilize filters to protect their health. Because the testing that the rule relies on is conducted in only a few homes, it is impossible for most residents to know whether they too could be drinking tap water with elevated lead levels. Therefore, filters that connect directly to the tap to filter out lead (be sure they are labeled Standard 53) are an important tool to protect residents of all ages in communities that are out of compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

We hope that the State of Michigan and water system operators will also begin to take a more proactive approach to public health by recommending everyone in, out of compliance, communities utilize filters.


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