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New White House action plan focuses on getting the lead out

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New White House action plan focuses on getting the lead out

Clean drinking water took center stage in Washington, DC, recently when revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule became final as part of a larger Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.

The White House describes the plan as “a historic effort of unprecedented ambition that will deploy catalytic resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law while leveraging every tool across federal, state, and local government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint.”

This is a good step forward in the decades-old battle to protect consumers – and especially children -- from lead exposure. Blood lead levels have reduced dramatically over the past 40 years, as lead gasoline and lead paint were eliminated from use. We might consider lead in water the next frontier in the fight.

The most recent Lead and Copper Rule Revisions focus on getting lead service lines – a major source of exposure in water -- out of the ground once and for all and improving communication from utilities to households. It’s also good that the Lead Pipe and Paint Action plan prioritizes helping underserved communities, and that it addresses all sources of exposure, instead of only water.

Water utilities will be creating “lead service line inventories” in the coming months, trying to get a better handle on which homes might have lead pipes connecting them to their water system. Most homes do not – they were banned nationwide in 1986 and in most places long before then. 

Here’s hoping that in the coming years, the risk of lead in drinking water is finally a thing of the past.

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