BREAKING: Lead Contamination Crisis in US’s Tap Waters – 68 percent children affected!

Lead Contamination Crisis in US's Tap Waters
Lead Contamination Crisis in US's Tap Waters. Credit | Getty images

United States: In a shocking revelation by US experts, about one-third of kids in Chicago who are younger than six and living in their homes are found to be contaminated by lead from tap water.

According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, about 68 percent of young children in Windy City have been found living with detectable levels of lead in contaminated drinking water.

Benjamin Huynh, the lead researcher and an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Department of Environmental Health and Engineering, said, “The extent of lead contamination of tap water in Chicago is disheartening — it’s not something we should be seeing in 2024,” as US News reported.

Moreover, as per the researchers, there is no “safe” exposure limit for lead, which is a toxic element that causes stunting of children’s physical and mental growth.

Probable cause of lead in drinking water

In 1986, in the US, lead water pipes were banned; however, many cities had already installed the pipes before the ban, and they continued to be used by people.

Moreover, as per the researchers, in the US, more than 9.2 million households receive drinking water supply through lead pipes and service lines.

Chicago has been found to have a maximum number of lead installments compared to any other US city. According to the researchers’ estimate, about 400,000 lead pipes are being used to supply water to not less than 2.7 million people in the city.

How has the study taken place by researchers?

To conduct the study, researchers used AI to estimate overall lead exposure in Chicago.

The researchers took samples of about 38,400 tap water from 2016 to 2023 to conduct the research.

According to US News reports, scientists will, therefore, try to locate the lowest detectable level of lead in these water tests, which is one part per billion. That would be about half a teaspoon of water in a pool that is as big as an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

What did the researchers find?

Credit | Getty images

The researchers pointed out that 69 percent, or one-third, of the tests put unsafe concentrations of lead in water.

Based on the collected data, the AI program predicted that 75 percent of Chicago’s city blocks with lead-contaminated water are likely residential neighborhoods, and 68 percent of these kids under six years old are living on the city blocks.

The analysis estimated that about one child in 5 (19 percent) was exposed to lead in their tap water as the primary water source. Lead is found roughly twice the level of the normal amount in their blood, as researchers said, as US News reported.

Racial disparity discovery in cases

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The study results also found racial disparities in getting exposed to lead from contaminated water.

The analysis found that with each 10 percent increase in Black and Hispanic families on a block, there were 4 percent and 11 percent respective increases in having lead-contaminated drinking water.

Also, the researchers pointed out that their tap water is 3 percent and 6 percent less, possibly tested for lead contamination.

Current action plan by EPA

The current “action” level for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion, which the Environmental Protection Agency sets, according to researchers. The government has to make some actions when the level exceeds 15 parts per billion for residents health.

As per the findings, about 9 percent of the results were over 15 parts per billion, which is considered to be the highest rate of lead in drinking water, as US News reported.

The EPA has proposed that the US cities replace all lead water service lines in ten years, per experts. During the intervening period, Chicago would have 40 years to come into compliance as it is widely known and used lead pipes.