Preventing Toxic Lead Exposure In Drinking Water Through Point-of Use Filtration Open Access
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Lead exposure through drinking water is an acute and persistent problem in the United States. The Flint, Michigan water crisis brought national attention to the problem of lead in drinking water, but every city in the United States is at risk of a Flint scale crisis where lead containing materials are present in drinking water infrastructure and building plumbing. The adverse health effects of very low levels of lead exposure in children are significant, permanent and irreversible. The costs of lead exposure in the United States are tens of billions of dollars annually. Preventing childhood exposure to lead is the primary policy in the medical community. The Federal Lead and Copper Rule is inadequate to protect public health from lead and inconsistent with primary prevention. The unique difficulty of regulating lead, the inherent unreliability of testing water for lead, specific shortcomings of the Lead and Copper Rule, and government incompetence and misconduct allow dangerous lead to be present in drinking water at the tap across the United States. This thesis describes how and why lead is present at the tap across the United States; the health effects of lead, costs of lead exposure, and primary prevention policy; and why regulatory efforts to control lead are inadequate. This thesis argues that point-of-use filtration to remove lead from drinking water present at the tap is necessary to protect against lead exposure consistent with primary prevention. This thesis specifically recommends that Congress provide a refundable tax credit for individuals to acquire an NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certified filtration system and replacement filters, and require all non-residential buildings to use best available technology for water filtration in drinking fountains.