More than 18 million Americans are served drinking water by providers that have violated federal laws concerning lead in water, with only a tiny proportion of offenses resulting in any penalty, a new report has found.
The toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is “not anomalous”, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report states, with widespread violations of national rules designed to protect people from lead, a known neurotoxin that is harmful even in small doses.
NRDC’s analysis of US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data shows that 5,363 water systems, which provide water to more than 18 million people, breached the federal Lead and Copper Rule last year. These violations include the failure to properly test water for lead or inadequate treatment of water to prevent lead from leeching from old pipes into the drinking supply.
Water departments to change lead-testing methods after investigation
The violations occurred across virtually every US state last year. Most seriously, 1,110 community water utilities provided water that exceeded the EPA’s actionable limit for lead in water. This means that more than 3.9 million Americans were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead in 2015.