Dangers of Lead Poisoning in Tap Water

by | Jan 25, 2017 | Civil Rights | 0 comments

In 2015, the city of Flint, MI, gained global attention after the city’s water supply was found to have dangerously high levels of lead, thereby exposing residents to lead poisoning. Five percent of children tested in Flint had abnormally high levels of lead in their blood as a result of drinking and bathing in river water that had traveled through the system’s old, corrosive pipes. Although Flint has gained worldwide attention, in part because of the number of people affected and the alleged cover-up by Flint officials, the lead situation in Flint is not an oddity. In fact, Flint doesn’t even rank among the most dangerous spots with lead pollution in the United States.

In total, Reuters found nearly 3,000 locales with lead poisoning rates that were at least doubled those found in Flint during the height of the contamination problem. Even more frightening is the fact that over 1,100 of these locations had residents with elevated blood levels that were four times higher. Many of the poisoned communities are in the eastern part of the United States, including Warren, PA, where 36 percent of tested children had high levels of lead in their blood. Some cities in the east, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and Cleveland have experienced lead poisoning for generations. In the most affected pockets of these cities, the number of people tested experiencing highly elevated lead levels reached as high as 50 percent.

What many of these affected areas have in common is that they are affected by lead that has been in the area for a long time, usually through old, peeling paint, industrial waste that has been left behind and buried or through old lead plumbing pipes. Residents in the majority of these lead pockets have suffered in silence as scant attention has been paid to most lead-plagued are and little funding has been earmarked to alleviate these problems. Reuters obtained the data used in the report from the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as state health departments, all of which track poisoning rates in each location. The statistics have disturbing implications. Where lead poisoning is common, affected children will experience developmental delays and start school way behind their peers.

Nationally, the CDC estimates that 2.5 percent of younger children are afflicted with elevated lead levels in their blood, but communities targeted in the Reuters report had far higher lead poisoning rates over five- and 10-year periods. As a Michigan resident, you expect the bare minimum of safety, including appropriate chemical levels in your drinking water. When you suffer injuries or sickness due to negligence, a lawyer can help you find compensation. Contact us today for a consultation. 

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