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USA Today Investigation: Excessive Lead in 2,000 Water Systems in Every State

USA Today Investigation: Excessive Lead in 2,000 Water Systems in Every State
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By    |   Wednesday, 16 March 2016 08:34 PM

Excessive levels of lead have been found in almost 2,000 water systems in all 50 states, according to a USA Today Network report published Wednesday.

The report comes as Flint, Michigan deals with a lead crisis that has sparked a class-action lawsuit. High levels of lead began showing up in the city's drinking water after it switched to the Flint River and didn't treat the water with anti-corrosion chemicals.

According to USA Today, 6 million people nationwide are served by the water systems that reported lead levels the exceeded EPA standards. About 350 of them provide drinking water to schools and daycares.

Children and pregnant women are most at risk from high levels of lead, though it can cause kidney problems and other issues in adults.

At least 180 of the water systems that tested high levels of lead did not notify their customers as required by federal regulations.

The EPA considers anything above 20 parts per billion (ppb) to be excessive, and in one case an Ithaca, New York elementary school tested 5,000 ppb, which the EPA considers "hazardous waste."

In many cases, few houses or public facilities were tested, according to the report. That is a problem because lead gets into drinking water not at the treatment plant, but in residences and other buildings it was built when lead pipes were still in use.

Lead pipes went out of fashion in the 1930s, though they were still used for decades afterward.

The only way to test for contamination is to do so at individual homes and buildings since the lead is not put into the supply at the treatment facility, but chemicals can be added there if a problem is found in a city.

The problem, USA Today said, is that even when problems are found enforcement is done at the state level and "can be inconsistent and spotty."

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Excessive levels of lead have been found in almost 2,000 water systems in all 50 states, according to a USA Today Network report published Wednesday.
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2016-34-16
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 08:34 PM
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