Pascrell Urges EPA to Update Lead & Copper Rule

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) led a bipartisan letter to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) urging the agency to update lead action levels to reflect the latest science as they undertake long-term revisions of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR).

The letter follows water crises in the homes of Flint, Michigan, the schools of Newark, New Jersey, and numerous other communities across the nation, which highlighted the urgent need to improve the public’s awareness of lead contaminated drinking water.

“We urge you to ensure [the updated LCR] reflects the latest science on incidence and health effects from lead in drinking water and effective notification of elevated levels,” the members wrote. “The current lead action level was developed in 1991 based on the practical feasibility at that time of reducing lead through controlling corrosion. Corrosion control technologies and our understanding of the negative impacts of lead at low doses have advanced significantly since that time.”

The letter also follows one day after reports that the Cannon House Office Building in the U.S. House of Representatives has registered above normal lead levels.

Background on the Lead and Copper Rule

In 1991, the EPA established the LCR to control and monitor the levels of lead in drinking water. The rule requires public water systems to take certain actions to minimize lead and copper in drinking water, reduce water corrosion to prevent the leaching of these metals, and in some cases replace lead service lines when an “action level” of 15 ppb is exceeded in more than ten percent of tap water samples collected during any monitoring period. To develop this rule the EPA used the best available data at the time which used 10 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dl) for lead levels in blood as a reference point to identify blood lead levels that were worrisome from a health standpoint. To learn more about the Lead and Copper rule, click here.

Background on Lead Toxicity

In 1991, the CDC established 10 µg/dl for lead levels in blood as “level of concern” to identify children at risk of lead poisoning. In recognition of lead’s high toxicity at low doses, in 2012 the CDC cut in half the amount at which a child’s blood lead level requires reporting and possible intervention from 10 to 5 micrograms per deciliter, now called a “reference level” (link here). According to the National Institutes of Health, lead is much more harmful to children than adults because it can affect children’s developing nerves and brains (link here). According to the EPA, 10-20 percent of the lead that poisons children comes from tap water (link here). The EPA also highlights that childhood exposure to lead has lifelong consequences, including decreased IQ and cognitive function, developmental delays and behavioral problems. Very high levels of lead exposure can cause seizures, coma and even death. Some health organizations, like the National Center for Environmental Health in a 2012 study, argue that no safe blood-lead threshold in children has yet been identified (link here).

Posted July 04 2016 at 11:35 AM Permanent Link

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