Problems with Pb!

After the Flint, Michigan water crisis in 2014, water quality has been a big concern for many Americans. The water supply for Flint had changed to using the Flint River as its source, but due to insufficient water treatment, lead leached into the drinking water supply. Children and pregnant women are especially at risk for effects of lead poisoning as it can cause severe issues with development, particularly in the brain. Lead accumulates in our bodies and can affect the liver, kidney, brain, and our bones. Not only is lead found in some drinking water, but it can also be found in paints and even our food! Luckily, levels of lead in the soil, water, and air have decreased significantly due to increasing regulations. Although the circumstances were unfortunate, Flint is serving as a great ignitor for improving regulations even more. 

In an effort to act on the Flint crisis and to ensure that the occurrence of this extent does not occur again, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established some new guidelines. The new protocols focus on identifying lead, expanding sampling, and making treatment requirements more strict. The overall goal of this is to improve efficiency of programs in preventing lead exposure by removing all the lead service lines across the country, particularly in at-risk communities. These new protocols require system to alert consumers within 24 hours if lead levels are above 15 parts per billion. They also ensure that pipes revealing lead levels between 10-15 ppb have to be replaced. The EPA still has a long way to go as there is an estimated 6.5 to 10 million households that still have lead water lines, but this is a great way to lead the path to establishing safe drinking water for all Americans.

After an event so unsettling like what occurred in Flint, Michigan, it is great to see the government in action to help prevent something like that from happening again. Our homes are supposed to be a place of comfort and safety; therefore, the idea of our drinking water poisoning us and our families is very concerning. This class has made me realize all the different compounds that can contaminate our drinking water; therefore, it is crucial that I begin to be aware of where something so important to my sustainment is coming from.

6 thoughts on “Problems with Pb!

  1. This was very informative to learn more about the Flint crisis in regards to the chemistry behind lead. It is scary to think that so many people were exposed, but I agree that it is promising to see the improvements the government is making to ensure it will not happen again. The 6.5 million/ 10 million households that have lead water pipes is also something I did not know and is slightly terrifying to think about. I hope that there is continued work towards addressing these issues, even after the media and others may not remember the Flint crisis. We never want this to be forgotten.

  2. It is very unfortunate that the water treatment was not addressed until several years after this began. I hope there will be more precaution and accountability for similar circumstances in the future. I hope policy makers will be able to especially help children who have experienced effects from high lead contamination in their water.

  3. Removing all of the lead pipes in the drinking water system will be expensive! But that’s not to say that it shouldn’t be done …

  4. It’s scary to think of all the place we could be where we are inadvertently being exposed to lead in the drinking water and no one is aware of it yet. I wonder if there is a temporary fix or way to ensure that communities suffering from highly contaminated water can ensure they have fresh water, without drinking only bottled water, while the old lead pipes are being replaced?

  5. It is rather unfortunate that our willingness to act on such dangerous circumstances requires a widespread outcry to be recognized. From the research I have conducted, it seems that many have known of the dangers of lead piping for quite some time but always seem to set the topic aside. This example of Flint makes me think about what other possible public health crisis currently exist that may continue to endanger people simply because they have not been popularly publicized.

  6. I agree that the water quality is so important to our everyday lives. It still blows my mind that this water crisis started not so long ago. It’s very interesting how they did not catch it sooner before it would be a problem. One would think that the water would’ve been tested before distribution.

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