D.C. Issues Warning Over Lead in Residential Pipes

Washington, D.C., health officials will announce today that pregnant women and children under the age of 6 who live in homes in the city with lead service lines should immediately stop drinking unfiltered tap water and have their blood tested for lead. D.C. Water and Sewer Authority officials plan to distribute free water filters to up to 10,000 of the estimated 23,000 homes in their (admittedly incomplete) database of lead service line-fed homes and begin studying the cost of replacing lead pipes on an accelerated basis. They currently estimate that replacing all such pipes within five years would cost each WASA customer an additional $7.75 per month on their water bills. The move marks a dramatic change in public officials’ response to studies last summer that found significant lead contamination in roughly two-thirds of tested D.C. homes. “We’re advising this to be on the safe side,” said D.C. Council Member Carol Schwartz (R). About time, as lead levels well below federal standards have been shown to cause large IQ drops in small children.