Flint, Michigan may be the most public case, but many towns and cities across the U.S. are also dealing with lead in their water supplies. Reviews of government data show well over 1,000 water systems exceeding levels of lead contamination over the past few years. That’s forced communities to be proactive on the issue.
CCTV America’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports from Colorado.
How a Colorado town is addressing lead poisoningFlint, Michigan may be the most public case, but many towns and cities across the U.S. are also dealing with lead in their water supplies. Reviews of government data show well over 1,000 water systems exceeding levels of lead contamination over the past few years. That's forced communities to be proactive on the issue. CCTV's Hendrik Sybrandy reports from Colorado.
It’s a part of the world that’s known for its snowcaps and clean water, but even here in Colorado lead is a concern. Last summer the town of Firestone tested the water at 40 of its homes, and according to spokesperson Kristi Ritter, 11 of those tested came back with high lead levels exceeding the 15 parts per billion. That’s the maximum allowable level in the U.S.
In Colorado, 23 water systems are dealing with lead exceeding the so-called action level. According to studies by USA Today and the Associated Press, well over 1,000 other water systems in the U.S. have also crossed that line.
The problem is concentrated in older homes in the U.S., built before the 1980’s, when lead water pipes and lead solder on pipes were much more widely used. This can cause contamination, even when water leaving the local treatment plant is perfectly fine.
It’s an issue that’s on more and more Americans’ minds these days, ever since news of Flint, Michigan’s water crisis broke.
“You know Flint was a disaster all the way around. There’s many other ways to deal with that issue in a safe and proactive way. And our water providers in our region are doing that,” Tom Cech, at M.S.U. Denver One World One Water Center, said.
In Firestone, a phosphate coating agent was added to the town’s water supply to prevent the breakdown of water pipes. Lead levels there are now down.
“With a reduction from 11 down to six homes that now have those excessive levels we consider that a good positive direction,” Ritter said.
Residents of older homes have been advised to, when in doubt, flush their water before drinking or cooking. Some experts said strict water regulations and testing have made America’s water safer than many people think.
But that doesn’t mean the fight against lead doesn’t go on.
“Pipes that were put in place in the 1950’s and plumbing that was put in place in the 1980’s, those aren’t getting any younger,” Firestone resident Ron Falco said.
For towns like Firestone across the U.S., Flint is yet another reminder that lead concerns shouldn’t be ignored.
David Rosner on lead poisoning in the US
For more on the lead crisis, we spoke to David Rosnaer, co-director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
David Rosner on lead poisoning in the USFor more on the lead crisis, we spoke to David Rosnaer, co-director of the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health.
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