Potential Lead Poisoning in California Drinking Water

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It started in a San Diego grade school when a therapy dog refused to drink the water. The water was tested and found to have polyvinyl chloride, a polymer used in PVC pipes that degrades over time. However, the testing also revealed something the dog did not smell, the presence of lead.

The elevated levels of lead in the drinking water were not only present in that school, but in other schools in the Southern California area, including Los Angeles. Lead is a neurotoxin that causes brain damage and developmental disorders even in the smallest amounts, so the discovery of the lead has caused great concern, much like it did in Flint, Michigan.

History of Lead Poisoning

Lead has been a part of human history for thousands of years, but the effects of lead were not fully realized until about a half-century ago. In the early 1970s, lead was banned from most substances, including paint. Children became sick after being exposed to the dry, peeling lead paint in older homes.

The presence of lead in drinking water is mostly associated with older buildings that also used lead pipes or other materials made from lead that interacted with the water and have slowly degraded over time. Since lead was banned its presence still crops up from time to time, mostly in drinking water.

How California Is Responding

Two bills have been presented into the California State Legislature. The first, AB 1316, calls for the Public Health Department to ask doctors across the state to do more investigating into potential lead exposure of children under their care. This would include testing children that may have been in contact with lead.

The second bill, AB 746, requires that all school districts immediately test the water for any presence of lead. If a lead contaminated source is found, it will need to be addressed immediately. So far, 2% of all children tested in California has shown some signs of lead exposure. This is mostly true for Southern California children, particularly those in Monterey, Humboldt, and Los Angeles counties. A zip code in Fresno showed that 14% of the children had been exposed to elevated levels of lead.

The main problem faced by California now is a lack of knowledge about the different potential sources of the lead. By testing children they will hopefully find where the lead sources are located so they can be properly addressed. Catching exposure to lead early leads to treatments that may minimize damage, although there is no cure yet.

If you are concerned about the potential for lead in your drinking water, contact the professionals at Brickley Environmental. They have the tools, equipment, and professional training to detect issues with your drinking water and act to remove it from the building. Do not let another day go by if you believe your water should be tested, call Brickley Environmental today!

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