Daily Archives: December 18, 2015

How risky is drinking water contaminated with lead?

By Mary Brophy Marcus, http://www.cbsnews.com/

LeadwaterThe public health emergency declared in Flint, Michigan, over high levels of lead in the drinking water raises concerns about the long-lasting impact lead exposure could have on the city’s residents, especially children.

After the city switched its municipal water supply from Detroit to the more local Flint River in 2014 to save money, some 100,000 residents may have been exposed. Chemicals used to treat the water leached lead from old pipes leading to homes, contaminating the water people got from their taps.

Reports of smelly, discolored water began to flow in last fall and researchers have since found elevated lead levels in dozens of children.

Just how much lead people have been exposed to isn’t clear yet, said Dr. Eden Wells, Chief Medical Executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“My understanding as of yesterday is that they don’t have all of that mapped out yet — that’s part of the investigation. We on the health side have a lead testing program and since the 2014 Flint River water switch, we have seen about 100 children with lead levels greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter [in their blood],” said Wells.

Wells, who is also a clinical associate professor in epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said a level of zero is the ideal.

“Lead at any level can be associated with decreases in IQ, behavioral disorders, even an association with certain juvenile delinquency as these children get older,” she said. Read more