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  • National Drinking Water Alliance

Towards a Much-needed Health-based Benchmark for Lead in Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is engaged in a process to derive a new, health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water. EPA’s draft report on approaches to develop such a benchmark is in a public comment period (ends April 5, 2017). Currently, through the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), EPA sets an action level for lead that essentially signifies a lead level at which water systems must undertake corrosion control actions.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in response to EPA’s draft report, has posted an excellent series of articles with clear explanations of the factors and considerations that underlie an understanding of lead exposure hazards:

  1. “With draft report, EPA takes major step to help communities assess risks from lead in drinking water” (Jan. 13) explains the approaches used by EPA to model a health-based benchmark.

  2. “When it comes to lead, formula-fed infants get most from water and toddlers from food, but for highest exposed children the main source of lead is soil and dust” (Feb. 3) analyzes the major sources of lead in the age-groups for whom lead exposure is most harmful to brain and body development.

  3. “EDF’s assessment of a health-based benchmark for lead in drinking water” (Feb. 28) presents EDF’s recommendation and demonstrates how a health-based benchmark for lead should be tagged to a child’s age, construction date of his/her dwelling, and exposure to lead in dust or soil. The article outlines steps that parents and health professionals should take if a test of home tap water reveals a lead level above the specified health-based benchmark for individual action.

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