Officials Deny High Lead Levels

Tuesday, January 27, 2009; 7:51 AM

A series of federal and local officials repeatedly said that there was no evidence high lead levels in District drinking water was affecting public health:

"There will be people who will never consider the data definitive or sufficient to totally allay concerns, but in the real world you do the very best you can. There's a problem with lead in the water, and it has to be fixed, but that clearly hasn't had an adverse effect we can demonstrate on blood lead levels at this time."'

- Daniel R. Lucey, chief medical officer, D.C. Department of Health. March 2004

"None of the 201 persons we tested who live in homes with the highest measured levels of lead in the drinking water (i.e. > 300 parts per billion (ppb)) had elevated blood lead levels"

- Daniel Lucey, D.C. Department of Health's chief medical officer, Senate testimony on April 2004.

"The findings in this report indicate that although lead in tap water contributed to a small increase in [blood lead levels] in D.C., no children were identified with [ blood lead levels higher than] 10 micrograms per deciliter, even in homes with the highest water lead levels."

- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and D.C. Department of Health report, April 2004.

"...the data strongly suggests that there is no correlation between the presence of lead service lines in the District and elevated blood levels. "

- Jerry Johnson, general manager, D. C. Water and Sewer Authority, testimony to Congress, July 2004.

"Residents with high lead levels in their tap water did not have elevated blood lead levels. "

- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site

"Drinking water is at most a minor source of lead for children. Drinking water may contribute a small amount if [there is] sustained exposure."

- Tee Guidotti, George Washington University chair of environmental health department and WASA contractor, May 2005

"In 2004, WASA funded a Department of Health program that conducted voluntary blood lead level screenings of more than 6,800 District residents. The results of the tests confirmed that there was no identifiable public health impact from elevated lead levels in drinking water."

- D.C. Water and Sewer Authority Web site, January 2006.

"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...

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."

- Tee Guidotti, main author of report on conclusions from high lead levels in D. C. water, January 2007

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