Lead Health Effects

There is no known safe level of lead in a child's blood according to the American Pediatric Academy, EPA, CDC, and a plethora of medical and scientific organizations. Oneida county and Utica in particular has one of the highest percentages of lead poisoned children in New York State Although the primary threat is to pregnant women, their fetus, infants and children, drinking water is a source of lead exposure for almost all people. Lead is a powerful neurotoxin that bio-accumulates in the human body.

How does lead get into drinking water?

Lead can enter drinking water when pipes and plumbing fixtures that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content.

  • Lead pipes - Lead service lines, the pipe that connects the water main under the street to a building’s plumbing. Lead pipes were also used in inside plumbing but it is unusual

Lead exposure continues to harm children nationwide and the Lead and Copper Rule fails to

meaningfully address exposure through drinking water

As you are aware, lead is a powerful neurotoxin that is especially dangerous for fetuses, infants,

and children.2 Lead exposure causes lower cognitive function, learning disabilities, and behavioral

issues.3 There is no known safe level of lead exposure.4 Lead contamination continues to threaten

children’s health across the country. A recent nationwide study revealed that approximately 50 percent of

children under six years old may have detectable levels of lead in their blood, and concluded that half a

million children in the U.S. have levels of lead in their blood high enough to qualify as elevated (5

micrograms per deciliter (ug/dL) of blood.

5 The study indicated that children that live in pre- 1950’s

housing and Black neighborhoods had, on average, higher blood lead levels than other group.


Importantly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just last week reduced their reference

level for determining elevated levels from 5 ug/dL to 3.5. ug/dL;7

as new data becomes available, the

evidence of harm to children at ever-lower levels of lead exposure mounts. 8

Drinking water is a source of lead exposure for almost all people. Lead leaches into drinking

water through lead service lines and other lead-bearing plumbing, such as solder and brass. Studies

indicate that formula-fed infants under six months old receive the majority of their lead exposure through

drinking water,9

and infants under one year old face the highest risks for waterborne lead exposure of any

family member within the same home.10

But the LCR cannot be counted on to reduce the alarming statistics above. The LCR is not healthbased, nor focused on individual homes, and is broken. It has failed for the past 30 years to meaningfully

prevent exposure to lead in drinking water for millions of people for the reasons outlined below. And the

recent Revisions to the Rule did not cure its fundamental flaws and continued to disregard the relevant

science. It is therefore imperative that EPA change its approach to reducing exposure to lead in drinking

water. Proactive measures are necessary to protect the next generations of children.