Children Poisoned by Loopholes in EPA’s Lead-in-water Testing, Are Your Children Next?
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Loopholes and flaws in EPA’s regulations allowed the children in Washington D.C. to be lead poisoned for years from 2001 through 2006. You would think that after an entire town is lead-poisoned, that EPA would never allow this to happen again. You’d be wrong. These same loopholes and flaws allowed the children of Flint to be lead-poisoned in 2014 and 2015 and are still allowing cities and towns all over the U.S. to hide the lead in water problems. EPA says they are working on changing the rules, but that will take many years. Are your children next? Please help make a difference for all the children and citizens in the United States by signing this petition to demand that EPA close these loopholes now, not a decade from now.
The picture you see is Gavin. He is just one of the children with lead poisoning from the drinking water in Flint whose life has been changed forever because of loopholes. The people, especially the children in the City of Flint, Michigan are victims of a terrible tragedy that was 100% preventable. An entire city was exposed to high levels of lead in their drinking water and lied to by the very agencies paid to protect them. Flint’s Children now have to live with the irreversible damage lead causes for the rest of their lives, the incidence which has doubled in the last year due to the sampling loopholes the state of Michigan uses to hide lead in water problems.
Thankfully citizens of Flint refused to believe the water was safe because of the ill effects being felt and the discoloration, smell and taste of the water, and took a stand. Many different groups in Flint united to fight for clean, drinkable water, which is how the Coalition for Clean Water was formed.
One member, LeeAnne Walters who had the worst has the highest lead in drinking water problem ever seen started independent based on testing performed with Professor Marc Edwards from Virginia Tech after her one of children was diagnosed with lead poisoning. With testing that used the EPA protocol without steps known to miss lead problems, her water tested at 13,200 ppb, but with the Michigan protocol her lead tested between 100-700 ppb .Later testing across the city using the EPA protocol without added steps that miss lead in water problems, revealed a problem across the City of Flint, which later caused pediatricians to find the problems with lead poisoning in Flint’s children.
From this testing a grant was secured from the National Science Foundation by Dr. Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech. That grant was used by the citizens to collect water samples using the testing as it is supposed to be done by the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule. This single act uncovered how deceitful and dangerous using these loopholes truly are.
Even after what happened in Washington D.C. and now in Flint, EPA has done nothing to stop States that are in direct charge of these regulations from continuing to use these loopholes to help the cities and towns hide the lead. The high lead levels in the Flint drinking water were only discovered due to the persistence of the citizens of Flint in seeking answers to lead poisoning of their children, and due to the help of many groups helped them find the answers. There are millions of lead lines connected from the water mains to the homes in cities and towns all over the U.S. and the people in charge of protecting our children are either asleep or helping the cities and towns hide the lead.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) intentionally promotes three ways to avoid capturing lead in drinking water when testing for it. Not only do they promote using these loopholes, they also did everything they could, like excluding test results that showed high lead, so the City of Flint would meet the lead limit. Simply put, as the result of deliberate actions, the MDEQ’s protocols failed to adequately detect the amount of lead in the water going into people’s homes, the protocols still found high levels of lead the results were ignored. This allowed the state of Michigan and the City of Flint to falsely claim the water was safe when it absolutely was not.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a specific set of rules for how to test drinking water for lead and copper to ensure public safety. States, cities and towns across the country have found ways around these rules to skew the results to give the false sense of security that the drinking water is safe. From the sampling instruction sheets that are accessible, nineteen out of fifty states use similar loopholes to hide the amount of lead people are consuming. Twenty-one states do not have their sampling sheets public, which means only ten states where we found the instructions are testing water accurately. The three methods the MDEQ use to minimize or avoid capturing lead in drinking water are listed below:
1. The practice of pre-flushing.
The city of Flint, adhering to monitoring protocols established by the MDEQ, instructs residents to “pre-flush” their systems for 5 minutes prior to letting it sit for at least six hours and then taking a first draw sample. In a draft EPA memo, Miguel Del Toral, a water specialist at the EPA’s Region 5 headquarters in Chicago, said this practice can only result in lower levels of lead being detected, and greatly increasing the likelihood that “worst-case” situations will go undetected. Professor Marc Edwards, a highly regarded municipal water specialist at Virginia Tech, is on record saying that no legitimate scientist looking to find lead in water hazards would ever use the pre-flush method and and has urged that the practice be banned since it harmed children in Washington D.C.
2. The size of sampling bottles being used.
The Lead and Copper Rule sampling protocol is supposed to test the water under normal household conditions. When residents fill a glass for drinking, they might turn the cold water on full force. That is why legitimate researchers such as those at Virginia Tech use bottles with openings the size of those typically found in a water glass.
The state of Michigan chooses to use sample bottles with small openings the size of a typical soda bottle, which are roughly the size of a nickel coin. Consumers can only run their water at a trickle when filling that type of bottle. This much lower flow means lead particles that would normally flow into the water, will stay in the pipe, and the sample will test lower for lead. When your child fills their cup of water at a normal flow rate, the lead particles will go into their cup.
3. Wrongly limiting the amount of time water remains “stagnant” prior to taking a sample.
In a deliberate attempt to skirt the intent of the LCR which has no cap on how long water can sit for testing purposes, the MDEQ’s invalidates, or throws out, test results where water has sat stagnant for longer than 8 hours.
There is no legitimate reason for the MDEQ to have this protocol. Once again, it runs contrary to the intent of the law, which is to utilize testing methods that mimic real-life, worst-case scenarios. The longer water sits in lead plumbing, the more lead leaches into that water. People are frequently away from their homes for more than 8 hours. Families with children and working parents could easily have their houses empty for 10 hours or more on a daily basis.
The LCR intends for people with water to be tested the way they actually consume it on a daily basis. Why test the water inaccurately with loop holes and waste the taxpayers money? Why have so many states chosen to use these loop holes or similar ones to minimize lead and copper when the purpose of this rule is to find it.
More importantly why has the EPA allowed this to happen again and again and why are they doing nothing to stop this? It has been over a decade since the tragedy unfolded in Washington DC and nothing has been done to rectify the LCR to ensure public safety. If these loopholes had been banned after what happened in D.C., there would not have been a second city exposed to lead. We citizens cannot not sit idly by and wait for this to happen again. We urge all of you to help spread the word and have our voices be heard. We cannot wait another decade for the EPA to do what should have done immediately after the tragedy in D.C . We need this change now before this happens again. Is your state one of the states that tests with loopholes? Please don’t wait until your child(ren) are poisoned to find out. Help us get the laws changed now and the loopholes gone for safety of all of our children. To find out more please visit www.flintwaterstudy.org
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