Lead in Water Worries D.C. Mayor

The recent outbreak of elevated levels in Virginia is being watched closely by those in Washington, D.C., reported the DC Department of Health. D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams expressed concerns about the high lead levels because D.C. receives its water from the Washington Aqueduct--the same place as Arlington County.

Since November 2002, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority samples taken from thousands of water lines in the city have indicated lead levels exceeding the 15 parts per billion MCL established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

"We've been told repeatedly by WASA that the universe of concern for the district is limited to roughly 23,000 residents whose homes have lead service lines," said Williams. "Now we're seeing elevated levels of lead in homes in Arlington that don't have lead service lines."


Arlington County leaders said preliminary tests of tap water in eight homes showed five had elevated lead levels. School officials plan to test water samples from county schools

It is unclear so far as to what caused the elevated lead levels.

Earlier, concerns were expressed regarding the safety of the White House from such contamination. A White House spokesman reported that the White House has its own filtering system that ensures safe drinking water to the building.

Lead, a metal found in natural deposits, is commonly used in household plumbing materials and water service lines. Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Very old and poorly maintained homes may be more likely to have lead pipes, joints, and solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally "lead-free" pipes may contain up to 8 percent lead. These pipes can leave significant amounts of lead in the water for the first several months after their installation.

Excessive levels of lead could cause kidney problems and high blood pressure in adults and delays in physical and mental development in children.

DC Department of Health, AP

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