Monday, February 12, 2018

EPA Updates Lead Disclosure Booklet to Address Lead in Water

Lead in Drinking Water

Last year, the EPA updated its "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home" booklet to improve information on lead hazards faced by homeowners and tenants. Changes include more in-depth information on lead in drinking water and de-emphasis on paint, dust and soil as the most common sources of lead.

Since 1996, property owners have been required by law to provide residents of homes built before 1978 with a copy of the booklet. The last update to the "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home" was made in 2012; since then, several lead crises involving contaminated drinking water swept the nation, including: Flint, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and even Washington, DC.

Lead exposure is toxic - even small amounts in the blood can cause cognitive and physical disorders. Because lead poisoning is cumulative, researchers are extremely concerned with low level exposure over a period of time - such as what one may experience when drinking tap water over the years from a lead-leaching faucet.

These cases have renewed focus on lead poisoning prevention, especially in regards to water safety.  Now, the booklet has a full page dedicated to lead in drinking water compared to the blurb in the 2012 edition. Lead pipes, faucets and fixtures as well as homes with private wells are explicitly named as common sources of lead in drinking water.

The new booklet has removed the statement that paint, dust, and soil are the most common sources of lead poisoning. Also removed is the advice to run water for 30 seconds before drinking from the tap. New research has showed that homes with lead service lead can still test for high levels even after 30 seconds of flushing.

Now, the booklet recommends residents to regularly clean their faucet screen or aerators, and to use a filter to remove lead from tap water. The booklet also reminds residents that some states and local utility companies offer free water testing, so researching if their home has a lead service line is worth the effort.

Finally, the new booklet lists the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline in addition to its Lead Poisoning Prevention Hotline. Residents can now receive specialized information for lead contaminated drinking water.

These revisions are an important step in educating the public on lead hazards. Lead poisoning prevention is imperative to the health of communities; armed with the right information, residents can make an impact on this health crisis.

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