Lead in water and paint a nationwide problem

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The majority of Utah counties have water providers who violated lead safety regulations in some form in 2015. That’s according to a new study from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The NRDC released their findings, including maps showing where water suppliers had violations, concluding that nearly 18 million Americans live in areas where water likely has higher levels of lead than are considered safe.

Sam Lefevre, Program Manager for Environmental Epidemiology at the Utah Department of Health, said lead is a serious ongoing concern in Utah.

“We don’t think there’s any safe level,” Lefevre said.

The NRDC report comes on the heels of a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics saying that the U.S. has grown complacent over lead poisoning, noting that 2.6% of preschool children have blood lead concentrations in levels high enough to impair cognition.

The AAP’s report focused on lead-based paint still present in older housing.

Lead has the most serious impacts on children and pregnant women, striking the brain and causing lowered IQs that last a lifetime.

Denni Cawley, Executive Director of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, wants the state to test the water in daycare facilities and schools, and she says the state should help parents evaluate their children and their homes.

“We need to give them that option to say, ‘I want to do this test to secure the future for our children,’” Cawley said.