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Washington, DC: Water Lead Crisis

lead

In January 2004, The Washington Post revealed that Washington, D.C., was in the middle of a water lead crisis.   It was later revealed that the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) and the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withheld information on the elevated lead levels in D.C.’s water for more than a year. A subsequent test by WASA conducted in March 2004 showed lead levels exceeding the maximum 15 parts per billion recommended in one of every three homes, and that the pollution is widespread, affecting at least 23,000 homes. Furthermore, lead contamination did not only affect homes with lead service pipes, but was also found in homes with service lines made of copper or brass. By March 13, 3% of children voluntarily tested had elevated lead levels in their blood.

Lead Emergency Action for the District (LEAD)*, a broad coalition of local residents and national health and environmental advocates quickly formed to challenge the inadequate response from D.C. authorities, EPA and WASA. The coalition calls for $300 million in federal aid, and demands that local and federal authorities treat this as a health emergency.

* LEAD currently includes the Alliance for Healthy Housing, Clean Water Action, D.C. Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, Moms on the Hill, National Black Environmental Justice Network, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Parents for Non-Toxic Alternatives, Public Citizen, Pure Water DC, Sierra Club, Working Group on Community Right to Know, and many D.C. residents.

In the news:
2005

January 29: Coalition Calls Effort On Lead A Failure
January 19: EPA Press Release: Water monitoring data provides update on orthophosphate treatment

2004
December 10: New study links lead exposure with increased risk of cataract
November 13: WASA to Replace 2,800 Lead Pipes Over Next Year
October 5: Lead Levels in Water Misrepresented Across U.S.
September 24: Bacteria Put D.C. Water in Breach
July 9: Anti-Lead Additive Program Expanding

    » cmep | Water | us | other | dc


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