The water contamination underscores health safety. Ounces of water are consumed by people from a public source. Billions of people rely on tap water. That is why a safe and clean source of water supply is vital. When water gets contaminated, and outrage will surely happen. One of the common contaminants of water is lead.
Lead is a neurotoxin found in natural deposits of elements. Lead can be found in drinking water when corrosion of faucets, plumbing, and fixtures occurs. When this happens, the water supply used by the public is in great trouble. This is when the drinking water gets contaminated with lead.
Pregnant women, infants, and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead because it is a toxic metal that can harm health even at low exposure levels. Even a dose of lead that would have a little effect on an adult can have potential effects on children. Lead exposure in children can impact brain development and the nervous system. This situation is very alarming.
People were triggered because of the danger that happened in Flint, Michigan, last 2014. And now, what has happened in Los Angeles and San Francisco about the lead exposure to children and families that caused their lives into grave predicament? It has been reported that it is worse than what happened in Flint. Find out why.
Lead in L. It makes families sick
There were reported children in 29 California neighborhoods have been exposed to high levels of lead poisoning. When a therapy dog refused to drink at a San Diego grade school, it was the first clue that something was wrong with the water.
About 14 percent of children tested for lead levels higher than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s threshold of five micrograms per deciliter of blood in one Fresno community.
Comparatively, 5 percent of children in Flint tested above the CDC threshold during the early stages of that city’s contaminated water crisis.
High lead levels were also found in parts of downtown Los Angeles and the Bay Area. In Alameda County, eight communities reported levels equal to or greater than Flint’s rates. In Los Angeles, four communities reached or surpassed Flint’s levels.
The news has left California legislators anxious that children exposed to lead may go undiagnosed under the status quo. Doctors here typically refer children for lead testing only if the family says it lives in a home more than 40 years old, with peeling paint and low-income assistance programs.
And although public schools can voluntarily test their water for the lead—free under a new California Water Boards program—they are under no legal requirement to do so.
How widespread is the problem? The national Centers for Disease Control found that 5 percent of tested children in Flint had elevated lead levels. In California, the state Department of Public Health has found that 2 percent of tested children have elevated levels.
But there are hot spots of trouble. In Alameda County, eight zip codes showed rates higher than or equal to Flint. Zipcodes within Los Angeles, Monterey, and Humboldt counties also showed higher rates of childhood lead exposure. In one Fresno zip code, nearly 14 percent of the children tested had elevated levels of lead.
State officials conducted the tests about five years ago and looked at children under the age of 6 who were at risk for lead exposure. This included children enrolled in Medicaid or children who lived in older homes. By comparison, officials in Michigan tested children living at or below the poverty levels, and children enrolled in Medicaid.
While the tests cannot determine the source of the lead poisoning, officials said potential causes include lead-based paint, contaminated soil, or drinking water.
San Francisco Schools Detected Toxic Levels of Lead in Water
High levels of lead were found in the water at three San Francisco public schools. According to school district officials, water taps have been turned off after samples were found to contain lead levels above federal safety standards.
The San Francisco Chronicle identified the three schools as West Portal and Malcolm X elementary schools and San Francisco International High School. Letters were sent home to parents informing them of the discovery, and water fountains were turned off.
In early October, a California law went into effect that requires lead testing in all state public schools. Of the 72 schools tested, West Portal Elementary, Malcolm X Elementary, and San Francisco International High School had one or more fixtures “with actionable lead levels.” The pipes where toxic levels of lead were detected have all been shut down. The district notified parents of the discovery, and schools would provide bottled water to students.
Of the 1,100 schools that have received testing results, State Water Resources Control Board officials said, 35 posted high levels of lead, including schools in the Jefferson Elementary School District in San Mateo County and the St. Helena Unified District in Napa County, as well as the California School for the Blind in Fremont.
In San Francisco, 72 school sites were tested, with just the three found to be above the recommended federal lead threshold of 15 parts per billion. Parents are recommended to conduct a test with their children to ensure safety. The district notified parents of the discovery, and schools would provide bottled water to students.
Toxins’ impact on health
High levels of lead exposure can attack the brain and central nervous system of the person who ingested it. This is especially damaging to children because their central nervous systems are still developing. It can cause developmental problems, such as decreased IQ, learning disabilities, and stunted growth.
Another chemical that contaminated the soil and air around homes in L.A. is benzene. Exposure to benzene causes headaches, dizziness, tremors, and skin and eye irritations. It also increases leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma if people are exposed to this chemical for long periods.
Arsenic, another chemical present in the area, is dangerous in its inorganic form. If swallowed, it can damage the body’s digestive system. Some symptoms include stomachaches, vomiting, and diarrhea. If touched by the skin, it can cause irritations and rashes that form dark patches on the surface. Moreover, it can also cause cancer in the body if ingested long-term.
No Safe Levels
We now know there are no safe levels of lead exposure. Even small amounts of lead can have serious developmental effects, particularly for young children and pregnant women.
Pathogens are not the only health hazard lurking in drinking water. Tap water can also contain lead, which is devastating to children’s developing brains. A deteriorating water system infrastructure built in the 19th century is the culprit; drinking water service pipes were often lined with lead.
Same Harm, Different Cities
The facts are clear that the water system is leaching lead and that contamination is profoundly hazardous to human health. The solutions are also clear, even if they will cost a great deal. But given pervasive social and environmental inequalities, can anyone say with confidence that the tragedy like the ones in Flint, Los Angeles, San Francisco, or even other cities have issues in lead content in water won’t happen over again?
To address the lead poisoning concerns, local prevention programs have provided services, including testing recommendations and counseling programs to help families affected by lead exposure. Communities already suffering from compounding injustice feel the brunt. Lead poisoning will affect the next generation of inner-city children. Be careful and be alert to your whole families’ safety.
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