Physician: Clarksburg Leaders’ Situation Highlights Importance of Routine Visits to Healthy Children | VM News
CLARKSBURG, Va. (WV News) – As state and federal officials and the Clarksburg Water Board work to tackle lead found in drinking water at homes in the Clarksburg water system, a local doctor said the situation highlights the importance of a regular well. child visits for infants and children.
A July 2 administrative order issued by the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources alleges that repeated samples at the residences of three children diagnosed with high levels of lead in the blood showed levels of lead in the blood. Drinking water exceeded the action level designated by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency of 15 parts per billion, with a test of a residence showing a lead level of over 8900 parts per billion.
Although lead levels in children’s blood cannot be attributed solely to drinking water, as multiple sources of exposure have been identified in assessments, the state health official and commissioner of the Bureau Health Minister, Dr Ayne Amjad called the situation “worrying” and encouraged parents of children under 6 living in older homes served by the Clarksburg Water Board to discuss the risks of lead exposure. with their child’s pediatrician to determine if a preventive blood lead test is necessary.
Additional steps that all consumers can take include flushing water lines used for drinking and cooking, and using bottled water to prepare formula. Boiling water does not remove lead from the water and should not be used for lead reduction.
However, lead pipes are not just a problem for the Clarksburg Water Board. The Natural Resources Defense Council has estimated that at least 9.7 million water pipes in the United States may contain lead, including about 20,000 in West Virginia.
Dr Brittanie West of the United Hospital Center Family Medicine said the situation underscored the importance of healthy children’s regular visits with a doctor, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, when some may have postponed visits. at the doctor.
“I think it’s good to have awareness. I don’t think (people) should necessarily be very scared about it as long as they’re doing their normal screenings and stuff like that, ”she said.
Doctors will usually check the blood lead levels in infants aged 1 or 2 as part of their regular children’s checkups, West said.
“Our standard of practice around here is to do it for all children,” she said. “We might have one or two (lead exposures) a year in practices that see a lot of kids. It is not particularly common. After that, once they get to a positive level, there are different recommendations as to their level whether or not you treat them or not or watch them and redraw them.
Although the health effects of lead exposure in children vary depending on a variety of factors, the effects can be serious in some cases.
“The younger you are exposed, the more serious their health effects will be. Suppose a pregnant woman is exposed, her baby has a risk of having a lower IQ, slow growing. If a child is exposed, they can have a nervous system, brain damage, that sort of thing if the levels are really high. That’s why we’re so aggressive about their screening, ”West said.
According to the state’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, 62,275 initial lead screenings have been completed in children under the age of 6. Of these, 447 had elevated blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead exposure can come from many sources. In addition to drinking water contaminated by pipes, plumbing or older plumbing fixtures containing lead, lead paint is often found in homes built before 1978. When paint peels or cracks creates lead dust which can then be swallowed or breathed.
It can also be found in some products like some toys and jewelry, candy imported from other countries, and some traditional home remedies.
Symptoms of lead exposure in children can be very nonspecific, such as abdominal pain or constipation, headache, irritability, or loss of appetite. Some children experience pain and tingling in their hands and feet, or general weakness, West said.
West recommended anyone who might be concerned about lead in their drinking water to contact their water supplier or local health department to get tested.
According to an administrative order issued on July 2 by the DHHR, the results reported on May 10 from drinking water samples collected during the three lead assessments in children diagnosed with high levels of lead in the blood revealed lead levels in water at 285.2 parts per billion in a Tyler Avenue. residence and 20.3 parts per billion in a Bridge Street residence, both above the EPA’s 15 parts per billion action level. A Stanley Avenue house measured at 10.8 parts per billion.
The Water Office was informed the same day, in accordance with the administrative order, of a recommendation to take additional water samples. The state also requested information on known lead service lines.
Additional samples taken from these homes by the Water Board on May 12 and analyzed by Reliance Laboratories found lead levels of 8,940 parts per billion at the Bridge Street site, 30 parts per billion on Tyler Avenue and 21 parts. per billion on Stanley Avenue.
DHHR carried out a third round of tests on May 20 at the Bridge Street home, with results showing 12.4 parts per billion without rinsing, 55.1 parts per billion after 30 seconds of rinsing, 11.5 parts per billion after 60-second rinse and 6.9 parts per billion after a 90-second flush at the kitchen sink faucet at the Bridge Street Residence. Another sample at the bathroom sink showed 15.5 parts per billion.
On June 14, authorities took samples from the meter pits of each of the three residences. A meter reading can be useful to indicate whether the source of lead is in the water system lines from the main line to the meter, or in the house’s own lines between the meter and faucets.
Laboratory analysis of the water collected from the meter showed 2,130 parts per billion no rinse and 163.5 parts per billion after a 30-second flush at the Tyler Avenue home; 726.5 parts per billion without rinsing and 153.6 parts per billion after 30 seconds of rinsing at the Bridge Street home; and 326.6 parts per billion without a flush and 163.5 parts per billion after a 30-second flush at the Stanley Avenue home.
Additional samples were taken upstream and downstream of these meters with longer flush times, and laboratory analysis of these samples showed lead levels below the action threshold. A sample taken from the clear well at the processing plant did not detect any lead.
Clarksburg Water Board chief executive Jason Myers, who joined the Clarksburg Water Board in early May, said the Water Board was informed of the results after office staff left the office for the weekend of June 25 and that the The email was discovered early on June 28. At 9 a.m. that day, crews were on site at all three homes to dig up the service lines.
The lines from the main line to the meter were found to contain lead and were replaced, he said.
Myers pointed out that the problem was not found at the data center or in the main line of the system. Instead, the lead is found in the old service lines running from the main line to the customer’s meter, or in the lines going from the meter to the house or to household plumbing.
A ban on new lead lines in the United States was implemented in 1988, but they were phased out long before.
This was not the first time that tests have shown lead levels above the EPA action level in a house in the Clarksburg water supply system, according to the DHHR administrative order.
According to DHHR, the latest round of Clarksburg Water Board compliance testing was conducted in 2019.
A water supply system is required to locate and report all lead service lines, including lead components, and take at least 50% of compliance samples from locations served by lead service lines.
The sample site plan submitted by the Clarksburg Water Board to DHHR in March 2019 did not indicate any lead service lines in the system, according to the DHHR order.
“The sampling site plan did not include samples taken from the lead service lines as required by the (EPA lead and copper rule). All samples taken for compliance were identified as taken from copper lines with lead solder, ”says the order.
The DHHR order says 2019 compliance testing found lead levels above the action level of lead in a home in Gould Avenue. However, the 90th percentile of samples collected was below the usable level.
Under current rules, a water supplier must only notify the residence where the exceedance occurred if the 90th percentile of the system is less than the 15 actionable parts per billion.
Based on the 90th percentile rule, the water supply system was found to comply with the EPA lead and copper rule. The Water Board has been tasked with taking samples for lead analysis every three years.
The Water Board says it is taking the lead situation seriously and, because the location of the lead pipes in the system is unknown, has a plan in place to test all drinking water. customers at the meter. According to Myers, any lead-containing service lines found during this process will be replaced.
The council has also been ordered to identify homes and businesses with lead service lines and to provide an alternative source of potable water or filters certified to remove lead to any customers who may be affected by it. lead exposure.
Clarksburg Water Board customers concerned about potential lead in their water should call Bob Davis, Chief Water Operator, at 304-624-5467, ext. 121.