AT LEAST 2% OF US PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS ARE LIKE FLINT'S – AMERICANS JUST DON'T HEAR ABOUT THEM | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

AT LEAST 2% OF US PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS ARE LIKE FLINT'S – AMERICANS JUST DON'T HEAR ABOUT THEM

SOURCE: THECONVERSATION.COM

More than five years after Flint’s water crisis first hit the news, the city has successfully lowered the lead levels in its water.

The most recently available testing, from the second half of 2018, puts the lead in Flint’s water at 4 parts per billion. That’s well below the level, 15 ppb, that the federal government currently regards as dangerous for public health.

No amount of lead in water is safe, but the lower level in Flint represents a substantial improvement over the 27 ppb reported by the Virginia Tech Water Study at the peak of the crisis in April 2015.

However, even Flint’s highest levels were not atypical for water systems that have problems. Most reports of elevated lead levels cluster in the range between 15 and 20 ppb.

WHERE LEAD PROBLEMS OCCUR
The federal Lead and Copper Rule requires public water utilities to sample home tap water yearly in neighborhoods most likely to face contamination.

If more than 10% of samples exceed 15 parts per billion of lead, the rule states that the water system must take steps to control pipe corrosion – the main source of lead in residential tap water – as well as to inform the public and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Water systems, especially in rural areas, can report much higher levels than the EPA cutoff. In 2017, for example, an elementary school in Tulare County, California, home to agricultural laborers, reported lead levels of 4,600 ppb. The school distributed bottled water to its students and replaced its well. The same year, a senior living center in Stroudsberg, Pennsylvania, had lead levels of 3,428 ppb. Such drinking water is truly poisonous, especially for children.

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