It seems that the crisis of lead poisoning drinking water in the United States is just beginning.
Earlier today, VICE News reported that school officials from Newark, New Jersey admitted to knowing about dangerously-high lead levels since at least 2012. Last week, the 35,054-student school district stopped fountains and delivered bottled water to nearly half its schools after annual testing found that 10 percent of water samples contained lead above the legal limit set by the EPA.
The revelation came on the same day as a report published by the USA Today news organization, which found nearly 2,000 water systems, used by 6 million people, had excessive levels of lead present.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) in 1991, which "requires systems to monitor drinking water at customer taps." If water is found to have excessive lead in more than 10 percent of taps, providers "must undertake a number of additional actions to control corrosion" and "inform the public about steps they should take to protect their health and may have to replace lead service lines under their control."
The issue came to the attention of the public after Flint, Michigan, a majority African-American city north of Detroit, experienced a severe water crisis in April 2014 after changing their water supply source from the treated Detroit Water and Sewage Supply water to that of the Flint River.
Public officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the Flint River, and as a result, extremely high levels of lead were leached from aging pipes into the water supply.
Matt Hopper holds and comforts Nyla Hopper, after she has her blood drawn to be tested for lead. | Photo: AFP
U.S. lawmakers on Thursday called for the resignations of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on the grounds that they failed to quickly intervene in the city of Flint's contaminated drinking water crisis
Effects of lead poisoning range from developmental disorders to brain damage. The young are most at-risk for these and other dangerous effects. An estimated 6,000-12,000 children have been affected in Flint.
The USA Today report discovered that in 600 water systems, samples rivaled the worst from Flint.