Lead in New York City Water Prompts Warning

It appears as if <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">lead has contaminated some buildings in New York City. According to the Washington Post, residents have been advised to run their tap water for about 30 seconds before drinking, cooking, or using water for baby formula.

Tests indicate increased lead levels in some older New York City buildings, said the Washington Post. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said that the City’s water, derived from 19 reservoirs in upstate New York is, for the most part, free of lead, wrote the Washington Post. The water system is tested some 500,000 times yearly at different points in the reservoirs and sampling stations.

The lead appears to be linked to lead pipes and fixtures, which are generally found in older buildings, built at least 40 years ago, said the Washington Post. Older buildings’ water is tested routinely under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, conducted in 2010 from June to September.

The Washington Post reported that this year’s tests found that 30 of 222 buildings tested—14 percent—tested with higher-than-acceptable lead levels. Under U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandates, if more than 10 percent of tested buildings contain lead levels higher than 15 parts per billion, then local utilities must act.

“The elevations seen in the city’s recent tests have been too small to pose clear health threats … but the best level of lead exposure is zero, especially for children and pregnant women,” city environmental Commissioner Cas Holloway said in a statement, quoted the Washington Post.

Lead causes behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, digestive problems, hearing problems, headaches, mental and physical retardation, and behavioral and other health problems. Of particular concern is the developing brain because negative influences can have long-lasting effects and can continue well into puberty and beyond.

Lead is also known to cause cancer and reproductive harm and, in adults, can damage the nervous system. Lead poisoning can cause seizure, coma, and death. Once poisoned by lead, no organ system is immune; experts agree, there is no safe level of lead.

According to New York City, although lead in drinking water can add to a person’s aggregate exposure to the toxic heavy metal, lead-contaminated water does not generally lead to poisoning, reported the Washington Post.

Existing guidelines indicate that the tap must be run whenever water has not been used from that faucet in the prior six hours, according to the Washington Post.

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