Dr. Thomas Griffith
Lead in Schools. Acceptable levels!?
Updated: Jul 23, 2019
Recently the Tacoma Washington school district has found excessive lead levels in the water supply of 6 schools. The media reacted in shock as levels as high as 2330 parts per billion (ppb) were found in one location. The current accepted level for water lead levels is 15 ppb. The question remains, “What are these ‘acceptable’ levels based upon?”
Ingesting Lead can be Toxic, Especially for Children
Lead deranges development of the Cardiovascular, Gastrointestinal, Hematological, Musculoskeletal, Neurological , Ocular (Eyes), Renal (Kidneys), and Reproductive systems. Lead also contributes to cancer risks. Researchers have definitively shown lead to be a toxin in even the smallest levels in children, who are most susceptible to its effects. There is no safe level of lead in children's drinking water.
Sadly, the standard of care for medical practice only recognizes outright poisoning by lead. The Center for Disease Control identifies children with blood levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter as the highest 2.5% of the population and at greatest risk of adverse health and developmental effects.
Treatment to reduce lead levels, known as chelation, will only be initiated (covered by insurance) if the levels exceed 45 micrograms per deciliter (ie poisoning). The only action to address levels between these ranges are public health efforts to maintain water quality and reduce exposures. The recent findings in Tacoma schools and throughout the country ought to let us know that’s not going very well.
Some of this is obviously beyond our control with ageing buildings and limited resources. We also cannot reasonably subject children to potent treatment based largely on theoretical prevention.
Advocate for Strong Regulation
What must be done is up to us as individuals and parents. Advocating for strong regulation and enforcement of water quality, rigorous testing and lowering the “acceptable levels” is a great place to start.
There are also water testing kits and filters that can be purchased inexpensively to ensure home water is safe. This is not something your typical family doctor may know much about. Please educate yourself and then spread the word to them. Without medical providers acknowledging these problems, nobody will ever take toxic lead exposure seriously.
Over the course of a lifetime, one can imagine what the effect of lead in our water has done to those of us in adulthood. You will actually have to imagine the results as this is a topic conventional medicine is loath to research. If being in the top 2.5% of blood lead levels is a concern for public health of children, then what about it’s long term effects on adults with elevated lead levels?
If you are interested in knowing more about how to determine your lead levels, their potential impact on your health, and how to protect your family and loved ones, contact us, we can help sort it out.