We are familiar with the problems experienced a few years ago (and still) with lead in the water supply in Flint Michigan. Unfortunately, this is but one example. Many of our cities, both urban and rural areas with older homes and municipal infrastructure contain lead in pipelines, as well as other sources like house paint, which decays over time. Lead dust debris can be ingested. Lead contaminated drinking water has been shown in several medical studies in children to be linked to permanent intellectual disabilities and behavioral disorders.

Additional sources of lead that people may not be aware of include small airplane use of leaded gasoline, and steel production. These two usages generate toxic air pollutants, and industrial lead pollution directly affects under-privileged communities living close to the source. Earth Justice has confronted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who is primarily responsible for oversight of safe drinking water, to enforce and strengthen actions to tackle the lead problem:

  • replacing deteriorated lead pipelines through monies provided by the 2021 infrastructure Inflation Reduction Act. Some cities, like Newark, NJ, have already replaced nearly all of its 23,000 lead service lines.
  • creating a rule that any amount of lead dust in homes, schools, and daycares is hazardous and must be removed.
  • adopting of regulations for leaded aviation gasoline.
  • adoption of new rules regarding toxic emissions from steel mills.

Despite these positive actions, there continues to be legislative opposition to regulations which are thought by some to enhance governmental interference and control. The EPA is a governmental agency engaging in environmental responsibility, and deserving of our support.

Dave Neff, Earth Care Leader

Earth Care