Elevated Lead in Drinking Water in Washington, DC, 2003-2004: The Public Health Response

By Guidotti, Tee L.; Calhoun, Thomas et al. | Environmental Health Perspectives, May 2007 | Go to article overview

Elevated Lead in Drinking Water in Washington, DC, 2003-2004: The Public Health Response


Guidotti, Tee L., Calhoun, Thomas, Davies-Cole, John O., Knuckles, Maurice E., Stokes, Lynette, Glymph, Chevelle, Lum, Garret, Moses, Marina S., Goldsmith, David F., Ragain, Lisa, Environmental Health Perspectives


BACKGROUND: In 2003, residents of the District of Columbia (DC) experienced an abrupt rise in lead levels in drinking water, which followed a change in water-disinfection treatment in 2001 and which was attributed to consequent changes in water chemistry and corrosivity.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the public health implications of the exceedance, the DC Department of Health expanded the scope of its monitoring programs for blood lead levels in children.

METHODS: From 3 February 2004 to 31 July 2004, 6,834 DC residents were screened to determine their blood lead levels.

RESULTS: Children from 6 months to 6 years of age constituted 2,342 of those tested; 65 had blood lead levels > 10 [micro]g/dL (the "level of concern" defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the highest with a level of 68 [micro]g/dL. Investigation of their homes identified environmental sources of lead exposure other than tap water as the source, when the source was identified. Most of the children with elevated blood lead levels (n = 46; 70.8%) lived in homes without lead drinking-water service lines, which is the principal source of lead in drinking water in older cities. Although residents of houses with lead service lines had higher blood lead levels on average than those in houses that did not, this relationship is confounded. Older houses that retain lead service lines usually have not been rehabilitated and are more likely to be associated with other sources of exposure, particularly lead paint. None of 96 pregnant women tested showed blood lead levels > 10 [micro]g/dL, but two nursing mothers had blood lead levels > 10 [micro]g/dL. Among two data sets of 107 and 71 children for whom paired blood and water lead levels could be obtained, there was no correlation ([r.sup.2] = -0.03142 for the 107).

CONCLUSIONS: The expanded screening program developed in response to increased lead levels in water uncovered the true dimensions of a continuing problem with sources of lead in homes, specifically lead paint. This study cannot be used to correlate lead in drinking water with blood lead levels directly because it is based on an ecologic rather than individualized exposure assessment; the protocol for measuring lead was based on regulatory requirements rather than estimating individual intake; numerous interventions were introduced to mitigate the effect; exposure from drinking water is confounded with other sources of lead in older houses; and the period of potential exposure was limited and variable.

KEY WORDS: biomonitoring, blood lead level, children's environmental health, drinking water, lead exposure, population surveillance, screening program. Environ Health Perspect 115:695-701 (2007). doi:10.1289/ehp.8722 available via http://dx.doi.org/ [Online 17 January 2007]

**********

In this article we report the findings of a lead-screening program instituted for residents of the District of Columbia in response to increased lead levels in drinking water in 2003 and 2004. The results are of interest as a population survey of residents, an evaluation of the public health implications of a lead exceedance, and a case study in emergency response to a drinking-water event.

A number of advisories and interventions were introduced at the time in order to reduce exposure and to mitigate any public health risk that would result. Among the responses mounted by the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DCWASA) and the DC Department of Health (DOH) was a screening program for elevated blood lead levels that targeted young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

Washington, DC, has had a well-documented problem with lead exposure associated with residual lead paint and contaminated house dust in older housing, mostly built before 1950 and never rehabilitated. Lead levels in the blood of children in the district have been falling for many years and continued to fall through the period of elevated lead in the drinking-water distribution system (Stokes et al. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Elevated Lead in Drinking Water in Washington, DC, 2003-2004: The Public Health Response
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.