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Photo: Stefan Lins via Flickr (under license CC BY 2.0)
Photo: Stefan Lins via Flickr (under license CC BY 2.0)

No lead in PA drinking water, analysis says

The Department of Environmental Protection review water systems in over 150 cities in the state.

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In response to growing national conversation on lead exposure in municipal water systems, the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) confirmed that drinking water is not a source of lead in Pennsylvania cities.

This topic has been a matter of conversation since the issues of the Flint, Mich., water system came under national scrutiny over the last several months. Studies found children in Flint tested high for lead exposure, something that was attributed to the city switching their source of water in 2014.

More recently the issue made its way to our state. Vox published a piece last week titled “18 cities in Pennsylvania reported higher levels lead exposure than Flint.” Well, according to the DEP’s analysis, this was a bit of an alarmist headline. Though to be fair, Vox did mention in their story that lead exposure in the state was largely linked to old lead paint.

The DEP said yesterday that analysis conducted by the department confirmed that the water systems in more than 150 cities are not the source of lead exposure.

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“We can definitively say that none of these 159 water systems [that we tested] have exceeded EPA action levels for lead,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “This eliminates one of the possible sources for the exposure. DEP has regulations and programs in place to monitor lead levels in drinking water, and they are working.”

The Vox piece used information from a 2014 Department of Health report which showed cities like Allentown and Altoona were reaching lead levels almost six times higher than Flint. Philadelphia was listed as having 10.19 percent of children testing higher than the CDC reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter.

The Wolf Administration released a statement last week saying state agencies will be monitoring cases of lead exposure across the Commonwealth. Both the administration and DEP confirmed lead based paint chips and dust is the source of lead exposure in Pennsylvania.

 
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