Toxic Lead Pipes Still Carry Water to 9.2 Million Homes in U.S., Posing Health Risks for Children

A new report estimates that it will cost more than $600 billion to replace old pipes nationwide, which still pose a risk of lead poisoning for children.

A new federal report indicates that millions of homes in the U.S. still get their drinking water from toxic lead pipes, which highlights the widespread risk of lead poisoning for children nationwide.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results of a survey earlier this month, which revealed that 9.2 million lead-tainted pipes carry contaminated drinking water to homes and businesses throughout the United States.

The findings came after the EPA surveyed public water infrastructure and maintenance systems of all 50 states and U.S. territories, indicating that it will cost more than $600 billion to replace all of the hazardous pipes and make drinking water safer for developing children.

Lead Pipes Are a Known Health Hazard

While a variety of products and contamination sources have been identified in recent years that can result in childhood lead poisoning, the old lead-based pipes are especially dangerous because they provide drinking water to large portions of the populations.

Toxic lead exposure is known to cause many severe and long lasting health problems, including chronic headaches, hypertension, learning disabilities, and developmental delays.

Elevated lead levels are especially hazardous for children, because their brains and organs are still developing, resulting in lifelong health and behavioral risks.

In recent years, problems with old water system pipes in Flint, Michigan illustrated the devastating effect of lead ingestion on young children. A number of water contamination lawsuits were filed by families, alleging that children were left with developmental injuries and other problems after exposure to elevated lead levels when the city switched its drinking water supply to the Flint River.

In 2020, the city agreed to a preliminary $600 million settlement to resolve Flint water crisis lawsuits. Most of the settlement was allocated to children who suffered lead exposure from the water supply and developed severe health problems as a result.

Learn More About

Lead Poisoning Lawsuits

Children diagnosed with lead poisoning after exposure to peeling or chipping lead paint in a rental home may be entitled to financial compensation and benefits.

Learn More About this Lawsuit See if you qualify for a settlement

Billions in Federal Funds Are Needed for Lead Pipe Replacement

Following a review of the recent survey results, the EPA indicated that the total cost of water infrastructure improvements needed to remove lead contaminants from drinking water will likely be at least $625 billion over a 20-year period.

A new bipartisan infrastructure law will immediately allocate $15 billion in funds to identify and replace toxic lead pipes where communities are most at risk.

According to EPA data, at least ten major U.S. cities are especially at risk for contaminated drinking water because their aging infrastructure was designed with lead pipes before the associated health hazards were well known. The EPA identified several states with multiple high-risk cities, including Oregon, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.


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