Pennsylvania Water Systems Not the Cause of Lead Exposure
An analysis of public water systems in Pennsylvania cities with high lead exposure rates shows that drinking water is not the source of the lead. Out of the more than 150 public water systems reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) none had exceeded EPA standards for lead in the drinking water. The water systems tested serve more than 6 million people – nearly half of the residents of the state.
“We can definitively say that none of these 159 water systems have exceeded EPA action levels for lead. This eliminates one of the possible sources for the exposure,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “DEP has regulations and programs in place to monitor lead levels in drinking water, and they are working.”
According to Department of Health, the primary source of childhood lead poisoning in Pennsylvania continues to be exposure to aging, deteriorating lead-based paint (chips and dust), and not drinking water. The age of Pennsylvania’s housing stock contributes to this problem. While lead was banned from paint in 1978, many older dwellings still contain layers of pre-1978 paint. According to 2010 Census data, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for having the most housing units identified as having been built before 1950 (when lead was more prevalent) and fourth in the nation for housing units identified as having been built before 1978, according to a 2014 Department of Health report.
Public water systems must regularly sample water from the homes they serve. These tests target homes known to have lead pipes, lead solder, or lead service lines. The EPA action level for lead is 15 parts per billion (ppb) or 0.015 milligrams per liter. If 90% of tested homes are below the 15 ppb action level, a water system is considered safe.
Pennsylvania residents on public water systems can see the results of the most recent testing by visiting DEP’s Consumer Confidence Report and searching by their water system name or by the county they live in (on the results page, contaminant 1022 is copper, 1030 is lead).
Pennsylvania residents are encouraged to visit www.dep.pa.gov/lead for more information on lead in drinking water.
The Department of Health provides a toll-free Lead Information Line (1-800-440-LEAD) to respond to caller questions and provide electronic materials about lead poisoning and other environmental hazards.
Source: DEP Press Release, 2/8/2016
AWWA’s Lead Resource Community Page
U.S. EPA: Learn about Lead
U.S. EPA: Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water
PA DEP’s Lead in Drinking Water Page
AWWA Fluoridation of Public Water Supplies: https://www.awwa.org/Policy-Advocacy/AWWA-Policy-Statements/Fluoridation-of-Public-Water-Supplies
PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)
National Strategy to Confront PFAS Announced
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a Strategic Roadmap to “confront PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination nationwide” as a result of work conducted by the EPA Council on PFAS.
According to the announcement, the Roadmap describes EPA plans as including:
- Finalizing the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule this year requiring monitoring for 29 PFAS.
- Issuing final health advisories for Perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS) and GenX in the Spring of 2022.
- Proposing and then finalizing enforceable drinking water limits under the Safe Drinking Water Act for Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) in the Fall of 2023.
- Finalizing a rulemaking designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA by Summer 2023.
- Issuing updated guidance for destroying and disposing of PFAS and PFAS-containing materials by December 2023 or perhaps as early as the Fall of 2023.
- Publishing final multi-laboratory validated analytical method for Clean Water Act applications in Winter 2022 and make additional updates to drinking water analytical methods for PFAS by Fall 2024.
- Issuing new guidance recommending state-issued permits that do not already include monitoring requirements for PFAS use EPA’s recently published analytical method 1633 by Winter 2022.
- Completing the risk assessment for PFOA and PFOS in biosolids by Winter 2024.
- Completing draft PFHxS, PFHxA, PFNA, and PFDA IRIS assessments for public comment and peer review (Spring – Fall 2022), while finalizing the PFBA risk assessment in Fall 2022.
AWWA supports regulating PFOA and PFOS in drinking water based on the best available science. AWWA has repeatedly called on EPA to better utilize the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and other statutes to gather data and take appropriate actions to prevent problematic PFAS compounds from entering the nation’s water supply. Importantly, EPA identifies pollution prevention as an important element of the PFAS Action Plan. The Plan includes data collection through the Toxic Release Inventory, TSCA data-gathering authority, and CWA Effluent Guidelines Program. It also describes Identifying PFAS categories to guide TSCA test orders this Fall.
AWWA has a suite of resources available on its PFAS resource page, including:
PA Emergency Management Agency recently launched Keystone Mesonet, an internet-based one-stop shop for weather and environmental data. The website provides users with all PA and federally owned weather data in one location.
Water Operators Tutor
A free service to help water operations professionals with technical questions
I started the Water Operators Tutor web blog to help drinking water professionals get answers to their technical questions. Learning to solve problems that may be on water treatment and distribution system certification exams is one objective. Another goal is to provide technical information for operations personnel so that they can investigate problems and develop strategies to improve water service.
I have been a water professional for more than 35 years and have written or edited more than 22 books and scores of articles on various water supply topics. Now that I am retired I want to share some of what I have learned so that others in the profession can benefit. It has been my privilege over the years to work with many dedicated water service providers. I will be calling on these friends to provide content for the blog and to help answer questions. This professional team will provide free information in the spirit of water service providers everywhere.
AWWA Sections are the primary contact with operational personnel. The AWWA Sections provide education and training at a reasonable cost. The Water Operators Tutor blog is another service provided through AWWA Sections to add value to membership. The blog will add technology over time to capture tutorial sessions on video, voice, and text for the benefit of all the readers. Use the Water Operators Tutor to ask your technical questions and to learn from the answers given to other’s questions.
Start your participation today by visiting the blog and sending a question or comment.
I hope to hear from you soon.