Doctors say there is no safe level of lead in the body and the effects can be irreversible.
Dr. Steve Lauer, associate chair of Pediatrics at the University of Kansas Hospital said, “Toxic effects of lead have been known for centuries and yet we're still talking about keeping our water supply safe, certainly it's disappointing to be hearing about this problem still.”
Lauer said babies are usually tested for lead levels at the age of 1 and that’s because the effects can be devastating.
Children in particular, he said, are at risk of:
- Lower IQ
- Behavioral problems
- Developmental delays
- Kidney, stomach problems
How to check
You can find your community’s latest water quality report on the EPA's website.
The Associated Press analyzed lead sampling results from the EPA’s Drinking Water Information System. The federal limit is 15 parts per billion. The analysis found nearly 1,400 water systems serving 3.7 million Americans have violated the federal lead standard at least once since Jan. 1, 2013 and are listed on the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Information System.
In Kansas, 18 private and government water systems had reported lead levels in their water samples exceeding federal limits.
Fourteen water systems in Missouri were among those with high lead samples, according to the analysis. All 14 serve small populations and get their water through private wells. Only one public system, in the small western Missouri town of Waverly, is on the list.
How to test
The EPA says the most reliable testing is through state-certified labs.
You can purchase water testing kits at local hardware stores and online, but there’s a fee and you have to specify what kind of contaminant you’d like to test.
More information about lead in drinking water can be found on the EPA's website.
Shannon Halligan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.