Community Town Hall Addresses Lead Water

Milwaukee – Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton were among many Milwaukee residents and community leaders attending the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) Town Hall meeting this past week.

FLAC spokesperson and Spanish Journal editor, Robert Miranda gave a power point presentation giving details about the 70,000 led water pipes operating in Milwaukee.

“Milwaukee city officials are correct when they say that our water system is safe” said Miranda. “Where the water becomes contaminated is when it is delivered through one of the 70,000 leap pipes connecting from our home to the city water main.”

Miranda pointed out that homes built before 1951 are more than likely to have lead service lines (LSL).

During his presentation Miranda highlighted that lead in the water of these homes is more likely than not coming from lead pipes and plumbing components leaching lead into the drinking water.

Lead is a metal with no known biological benefit to humans. Too much lead can damage various systems of the body including the nervous and reproductive systems and the kidneys, and it can cause high blood pressure and anemia. Lead accumulates in the bones and lead poisoning may be diagnosed from a blue line around the gums. Lead is especially harmful to the developing brains of fetuses and young children and to pregnant women. Lead interferes with the metabolism of calcium and Vitamin D. High blood lead levels in children can cause consequences which may be irreversible including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and mental retardation. At very high levels, lead can cause convulsions, coma and death.

The City of Milwaukee uses a compound in the water called orthophosphate which acts as a corrosion inhibitor by forming a protective film on the interior of lead pipes. This film protects the pipe material from the corrosive effects of water, which reduces or eliminates the potential for lead leaching into the water.

Miranda states however that the City of Milwaukee cannot guarantee that water flowing though any of the 70,000 home with lead service lines is safe.

“The City of Milwaukee is dealing with a Russian roulette type of situation here. Lead leaching in water can happen anytime. It can happen when there is construction going on out front of your home. It can happen when pipes in the street are disturbed because of street construction. Lead leaches in the water when the water is stagnant in the lead pipes for 6 or more hours. Bottom line, these pipes must be removed”, said Miranda.

The group plans to host a Town Hall meeting in the Southside in September. Meanwhile Miranda stares that the best way to protect your family is to buy bottle water or a filtration system that removes lead from the water.

Miranda offered the following suggestions to prevent lead poisoning from water.

– Run your water and only use it when it is very cold for drinking and cooking. Miranda says if possible avoid preparing baby formula with tap water.

– Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap as lead dissolves more easily into hot water.

– Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.

– Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure.

– Identify if your plumbing fixtures contain lead. New brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water.

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