The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that there are serious deficiencies
in water treatment plants in 75% of the states. More than 120 million people (
about 50% of the population) may get unsafe water according to a study conducted
by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
U.S. Health Officials estimate 900,000 people
each year become ill - and possibly 900 die - from waterborne disease. The
General Accounting Office estimates 66% of Safe Drinking Water Act violations
The contamination of water is directly related to
the degree of contamination of our environment. Rainwater flushes airborne
pollution from the skies, and then washes over the land before running into the,
rivers, aquifers, and lakes that supply our drinking water. All of the chemicals
generated by man will eventually end up in our water supplies. Nearly 70% of
Americans are worried about the quality of their drinking water, yet few realize
that water that looks, tastes and smells good can be hazardous to your health.
Lead is considered the number one health
threat to children, and the effects of lead poisoning can last a lifetime.
Not only does lead poisoning stunt a child’s growth, damage the nervous system,
and cause learning disabilities, but it is also now linked to crime and
anti-social behavior in children.
Lead is a soft material that is resistant to
corrosion. Lead has been used by many civilizations to transport water, and used
as early as the times of Rome. Lead is used primarily for lead pipe line, lead
solder and brass fixtures. Lead is also added to metal alloys such as brass and
bronze, as such, it is used in water faucets and fixtures. Lead has a variety of
other uses. Lead is a toxic substance and has adverse effects on human
health. Even low levels in drinking water, when continuously ingested, will
cause a deterioration in health. Exposure to lead produces many different
health problems. These effects are cumulative and usually are irreversible,
especially in sensitive populations such as fetuses, children, and pregnant
It has long been known that lead in drinking
water is highly toxic, and recent developments have increased the level of
concern. Contamination of drinking water with significant levels of lead is
much more widespread than previously believed, and levels that were once
considered safe are now known to be health threats. Exposure to lead is
cumulative over time. High concentrations of lead in the body can cause death
or permanent damage to the central nervous system, the brain, and kidneys. This
damage commonly results in behavior and learning problems (such as
hyperactivity), memory and concentration problems, high blood pressure, hearing
problems, headaches, slowed growth, reproductive problems in both men and women,
digestive problems, muscle and joint pain.
Infants, children, pregnant women, and fetuses
are more vulnerable to lead exposure than others because the lead is more easily
absorbed into the sensitive tissue of actively growing bodies. An equal
concentration of lead is more destructive in a child than in an adult. Pregnant
women should also be especially cautious about lead exposure, because it can
cause premature birth, and reduce the birth weight of babies.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control reports
approximately 7,500 cases of illness linked to drinking water in the United
States each year. This number is much lower than what is generally accepted
because drinking water contaminants are often not considered in the diagnoses of
illnesses. Lead is "a highly toxic metal the agency considers a major
public health threat.", according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA). The national Centers for Disease Control considers lead to be the
country's number one preventable pediatric health problem. More than 30 Million
Americans are drinking water with lead levels in excess of the Maximum
Contaminant Level set by the EPA.
According to the recently released lead
toxicological profile for lead from Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
Registry (ATSDR), the adverse health effects of lead range from slight
increases in blood pressure at 10 ug/dL to severe retardation and even death at
very high blood-lead levels of 100 ug/dL. High lead levels in pregnant women
increase the risk of complications in their pregnancies, and damage to the
fetuses. High lead in men can cause heart attack, high blood pressure, strokes,
Over 98% of homes in the U.S. have pipes that
contain lead or lead solder.
The main sources are lead pipes, or copper pipes connected by lead solder, and
from brass faucets, which also contain lead ( most chrome plated faucets are
made of brass which is 8% lead). The level of lead in tap water should not
exceed 5 parts per billion.
Here is what the experts say:
According to the USA TODAY, May 12, 1993,
"Drinking water supplied to 30 million people in 819 cities contains unhealthy
levels of lead", an unprecedented new EPA study says. Children are
especially susceptible to lead poisoning, which can impair mental and physical
Children’s lead exposure is
linked to crime, according to the Wisconsin State Journal, February 7, 1996.
" Researchers using a new test that looks for lead in the bones instead of the
blood say exposure to the toxic metal may contribute to crime and anti-social
behavior in children."
of Lead in Drinking Water
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