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Important update: Lead-based Water Lines

January 12, 2010

Program Manager
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program

Dear Lead Program Manager,

CDC's Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch has conducted an epidemiological study of the relationship between children's blood levels and lead water service lines. Our preliminary results suggest that when lead service lines are partially replaced, that is the public portion of the line from the the main to the meter is replaced, children are more likely to have blood lead levels greater than or equal to 10 µg/dL, compared to children living in housing with either undisturbed lead service lines or service lines that are not made of lead. The manuscript is currently undergoing peer review in a scientific journal.

I wanted to bring the preliminary results to your attention, as they underscore the need to provide health education materials to families that include advice for lead safe water practices following plumbing work in housing with lead water lines or lead solder. These practices include testing drinking water following plumbing work in older housing, inspecting faucet aerators, and removing any debris and flushing water lines before using the water for drinking or cooking. Families also should make sure that lead solder is never used in potable water lines. Home owners may also consider full replacement of lead water lines by removing the private lines running from the water meter into their homes. This precaution has not been adequately studied however because the data available to CDC included too few homes having had full replacement of lead water lines. The CDC web site (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/water.htm) contains information about what families can do if their water lead levels are above the US Environmental Protection Agency action level of 15 ppb. CDC grantees may obtain additional information from their Project Officer. Other programs may call 800-232-4636 for additional information.

Sincerely,

Howard Frumkin, M.D., Dr.P.H.
National Center for Environmental Health/
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry



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