The CDC's message on lead water lines
Last week, the scientific journal Environmental Research released the latest study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the health impact of lead in the Washington water supply [“D.C. water study sharpens view of lead threat,” Metro, Dec. 12].
While the study is new, its primary finding is not. It supports what the CDC has been saying since 2004: The presence of lead service lines increases blood lead levels in D.C. children.
Unfortunately, media reports continue to mistakenly suggest that the CDC’s opinion has changed. This may cause residents to miss the study’s more recent finding that partial lead pipe replacement does not reduce the risk for lead exposure.
In 2009, incoming CDC Director Tom Frieden ordered a new review; the CDC released preliminary data concerning partial lead pipe replacement to advocacy organizations, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (now D.C. Water), CDC-funded programs and the public in advance of this publication and has made these findings known since spring 2009. CDC also included its findings in its May 20 congressional testimony and in a June 27 Local Opinions commentary in The Post.
Elevated blood lead levels among D.C. children have fallen by half over the past five years, and they are now lower than the national average because the CDC and others identified these risks and began addressing them years ago.
The writer is director of the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Christopher J. Portier, Atlanta
| December 14, 2010; 10:44 PM ET
Categories: D.C., HotTopic, environment, public health
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