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Lead Contamination in the News

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The following excerpts are from various sources about water quality problems around the country and in Canada. Although certain problems may seem isolated, I would encourage all moms concerned about health to remember that you can not take drinking water quality for granted! Water filtered by the Multi-Pure system could resolve these quality issues at a very economical price and far more conenvient ly than bottled. I encourage all readers to check your local papers for stories about your local drinking water.

LONDON, ONTARIO, August 26, 2004 (Water Tech) - About 2,300 Kilworth-Komoka residents are without drinking water after a possible diesel leak was detected in an area where well water is drawn, The London Free Press reported.

The municipality, Middlesex Centre, is working on a plan to distribute free water today. The advisory was issued yesterday by the Middlesex-London Health Unit after London city workers detected diesel fuel in the Thames River near an old London water well field, Dale LeBritton, operations manager of the Ontario Clean Water Agency, said in the article.

Dale LeBritton told the paper that he didn't know where the diesel may have spilled into the water system. The agency is investigating to determine the source of the fuel.

According to the article, officials aren't sure if diesel made its way into the water system, but issued the advisory as a precaution.

LeBritton said in the article that early samples will be back within 24 hours, but more must be taken before the advisory can be lifted. That means residents will have to wait until at least Friday afternoon to see if the advisory will be lifted, the paper reported.

Drinking water may be mystery outbreak culprit

PUT-IN-BAY, OH, August 27, 2004 (Water Tech) - More than 1,000 people have come down with a mysterious gastrointestinal illness after visiting the area, and now investigators are turning their attention to drinking water as a potential source of the outbreak, The Associated Press (AP) said in an article reported by

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency officials have ordered private well testing to determine whether they are connected to and contaminating the village of Put-in-Bay's drinking water system. The concern is that leaking septic tanks could be contaminating well water and then flowing back into the clean drinking water, the article said.

Officials from the Ohio EPA had tested drinking water from public wells, which had tested negative. In the case of the private wells, there is no evidence yet that they are being contaminated by septic intrusion, Heidi Griesmer, an EPA spokeswoman, said in the article.

"We know what's coming out of the plant is meeting water quality standards," she told the AP. "We don't know if there's contamination being introduced somewhere in the distribution system."

The Ohio Department of Health said Aug. 26 that investigators have talked with 1,020 people who say they fell ill after visiting South Bass Island and the surrounding area, which is about halfway between Toledo and Cleveland. Some say they were sickened after visiting within the last week, according to the article.

About 40 people spent time in a hospital, the health department said in the report.

The department has tested a handful of samples from those who say they suffered from chills, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. Those test results led investigators to begin focusing on whether there could be any cross-contamination between private wells and wastewater systems, the article stated.

In addition to inspections of auxiliary wells, the EPA asked for increased monitoring of private water supplies. The health department recommended island residents use bottled water or boil their well water, according to the paper.

Lead contamination caused by fixtures, not pipes

ROCKVILLE, MD, August 30, 2004 (Water Tech) - Montgomery County's initial school drinking water test results showed that high lead levels were the result of fixtures, not pipes, NBC-4 reported.

The county may not begin remediation of thousands of school plumbing fixtures found to have high levels of lead until the end of the school year, officials said in the report. The Maryland county is located next to Washington, DC, where widespread lead testing took place earlier this year.

The county has tested lead levels in every public school water source, including drinking fountains. Richard Hawes, Montgomery schools' director of facility management, told The Washington Post that the county will not begin to replace fixtures until it has retested the 27,000 or so water sources in the schools.

"This could reach until the end of this year and even beyond that," Kate Harrison, school spokeswoman, told the news station. "We want to get a sense of the entire situation before we begin a systematic solution to the problem."

Lead controversy spreads to CA school

NOVATO, CA, August 31, 2004 (Water Tech) - Rancho Elementary School has shut down its water fountains indefinitely after the discovery of dangerous levels of lead in some of the drinking water, the Marin Independent-Journal reported.

Novato Unified School District officials said in the article that because of the discovery, they plan to test the water at all 15 schools in the district, but no timetable has been established.

Preliminary tests ordered by the district revealed that the water from two fountains at Rancho Elementary School exceeded the state and federal standard of 15 parts per billion. A reading of 27 ppb was drawn from a porcelain drinking fountain, while a 15.9 ppb level was drawn from a fountain in one classroom. But 17 other samples drawn from fountains throughout the school showed readings of 7.2 or less. Thirteen were less than 5 ppb, the paper reported.

Jim Davies, a district water consultant, said in the article that the test results are preliminary and another round of tests has also been conducted. The tests were ordered after school officials received a call from ABC-7 News, which had commissioned its own water testing at schools throughout the Bay Area.

Channel 7 told school officials there was lead in the drinking water - the highest reading being 39 ppb - but it was unclear how the station's consultants obtained the samples. School officials sent notes home with students about the lead findings, and provided bottled water to children yesterday, which was the first day of their school year, the article said.

Lead contamination persists into new school year

SEATTLE, September 7, 2004 (Water Tech) - While the city's public schools continue an ongoing effort of repairs and upgrades to eliminate the lead contamination plaguing the district's water supplies, most students will still see a familiar holdover from last spring in the hallways: bottled-water dispensers, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

In January, the district turned off fountains and began supplying bottled water at those schools with plumbing systems more than seven years old and commissioned tests at all schools, the paper explained.

Students throughout the district also will see something new this year: signs in the lavatories warning them not to drink the tap water. The dispensers and signs reflect the consistent attempts by the 47,500-student district to cope with a multimillion-dollar problem of lead contamination in school water supplies, the article said.

According to the paper, 58 schools will continue to receive bottled water. Deliveries may stop at some of those schools within a few months, as repairs are completed; others will stay on bottled water for the entire school year or longer.

The Seattle schools recently signed a $683,000 contract with Mountain Mist Water Co. of Tacoma to supply bottled water for the 2004-05 school year to all schools currently receiving it. That sum could be reduced as schools go off the bottled-water program, the article stated.

States sue EPA over lack of water guidelines

ALBANY, NY and HARTFORD, CT, September 8, 2004 (Water Tech) New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal filed a federal lawsuit this week challenging the decision of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to issue national guidelines and standards for harmful storm water pollution discharges from construction sites that could effect drinking water supplies, according to a joint press release.

The legal action was filed Sept. 7 in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan.

"Dirty runoff from construction sites is one of the largest sources of water pollution," Attorney General Spitzer said in the release. "EPA knows this and agreed to address the problem by setting strong national standards. But now EPA refuses to act. States need these standards to protect the water we all rely on for drinking, swimming, fishing and recreation."

Connecticut Attorney General Blumenthal said in the release: "We are vigorously challenging EPA to adopt a national policy to properly protect local and national waterways. While Connecticut has strong rules and tough enforcement, a lack of stringent nationwide standards creates an unfair economic development advantage for states with flimsy regulations."

Sediment and other storm water pollutants, such as oils, pesticides, and heavy metals associated with the construction and development of land, can significantly impair drinking water reservoirs, lakes, rivers and coastal waters.

According to the release, EPA has acknowledged that polluted runoff from construction sites can exceed that from undisturbed sites by 1,000 times or more.

Under the Clean Water Act, EPA is required to promulgate technology-based standards for industrial pollutant discharges, including discharges associated with construction and land development, the release said. Once issued by EPA, state agencies incorporate the standards into permits for local construction and development activities.

Many states, including New York and Connecticut, already regulate storm water pollution discharges associated with construction and development of land. According to the release, by failing to set minimal national standards for reducing these discharges, New York and Connecticut allege that EPA has undermined these states' efforts to protect their own waters and endangers interstate waters.

On June 24, 2002, under a court order, EPA proposed guidelines and standards for storm water pollution from the construction and development industry, the release said. Despite EPA's legal obligation to finalize these pollution controls, EPA announced on April 26, 2004 that it would withdraw its proposal.

State to increase lead testing for school water

SEATTLE , September 9 2004 (Water Tech) - Gov. Gary Locke announced on Wednesday that the state will provide $750,000 to help school districts test for lead in elementary-school drinking fountains, The Seattle Times reported.

According to the article, districts will be required to provide a 25 percent match to receive the money, but such an assist should help cash-strapped districts like Seattle, which has spent about $2.25 million and estimates it could cost more than $6 million to remedy its lead problems.

Locke said that there are no known cases of lead poisoning caused by drinking water in the state, the article reported. Still, the governor urged school districts to test their water.

Locke directed the state Board of Health to consider the issue when it looks at school environmental standards later this year, the paper stated.

In Seattle, what is perceived as "safe" could mean the difference between the public spending $1.7 million for plumbing fixes that meet health standards for lead and cadmium contamination or more than $6 million to clean up drinking water, the article explained.

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