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Posted at 6:55 PM ET, 12/22/2010

The CDC's misleading look at D.C. water

By Yanna Lambrinidou, Washington

Regrettably, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [letters, Dec. 15] seems unable to tell the truth about lead in D.C. drinking water. Attempting to challenge news stories exposing the CDC's past failure to protect D.C. residents from lead at the tap, agency representative Christopher J. Portier made statements that once again misinform rather than educate.

Contrary to Mr. Portier's claim, the primary finding of the CDC's latest study - that lead service lines increase blood lead levels in D.C. children - contradicts what the CDC has said since 2004. The agency's fatally flawed 2004 paper did not attribute a single case of elevated blood lead to the District's contaminated water in 2001-04, and residents were left unprotected from continued exposure. Moreover, the agency understood the link between the District's lead service lines and blood lead levels in 2007, but it did not make the information public until January 2010.

In his eagerness to exonerate the CDC, Mr. Portier failed to mention his agency's most critical new finding: that intact and partial lead service lines pose a health risk to fetuses, infants and children even when our drinking water meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requirements and is supposedly safe. The CDC must stop rewriting history and insist that the EPA strengthen its lead-in-water standards.

The writer is president of Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives, a D.C.-based children's environmental health organization.

By Yanna Lambrinidou, Washington  | December 22, 2010; 6:55 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., D.C. politics, HotTopic, environment, public health  
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