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Lead exposure through Drinking Water: Lessons to be learned from recent U.S. experience

  • Authors (legacy)
    Triantafyllidou S., Lambrinidou Y. and Edwards M.

Lead (Pb) particles that detach from the plumbing and contaminate drinking water can pose a
significant health threat, which is often underestimated. Laboratory simulation of this problem
revealed that standard quantification protocols in the US may miss 80% of the lead present in
the water. At the same time, a significant fraction of this undetected particulate lead may be
bioavailable when ingested. A critical review of the Washington DC lead-in-water crisis
suggested that lead in water might constitute a greater public health risk than generally
acknowledged, in at least some circumstances. It also revealed deficiencies in the public
health response as well as in alerting the public to elevated levels of lead, and the subject
continues to be mired in controversy. Our independent testing at six Washington DC public
schools in 2008 showed that problems with elevated lead still persist at 2-41% of taps
sampled at each school, even after remedial measures were implemented.

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