The story about lead contamination in Flint, Michigan’s water supply is all over the news the past week. but lead contamination is not solely a problem in Flint. Any home with old pipes, or that obtains water from sources that are contaminated, can have lead in the water coming out of the tap.
Pregnant women and children are most vulnerable to the effects of lead ingestion, but there is no “safe” level of lead exposure. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, “Lead in the body is distributed to the brain, liver, kidney and bones. It is stored in the teeth and bones, where it accumulates over time. Human exposure is usually assessed through the measurement of lead in blood.”
The WHO website goes on to explain how the higher lead levels affects children’s health specifically, causing coma, convulsions and, in some cases, death. Children who survive severe lead poisoning may experience severe cognitive declines and behavioral issues. Kids with lower levels of lead exposure may have lower intelligence quotient (IQs), shorter attention spans and increased antisocial behavior, and do less well in academic achievement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information on how lead can get into your water and how to get your water tested here.
And outside Chicago, according to Vox, lead contamination in water is not just limited to Flint, Michigan water. Check out this article on Vox, “It’s not just Flint — every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead hurting kids” for information on lead contamination in New York City and New Orleans as well as other areas.
Chicago parent has specific tips on how to protect your children and family from lead exposure in your water here.
To learn more about preventing and treating lead exposure, check out, “9 Ways to Prevent and Deal with Lead Poisoning,” from Parents.com.