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Preventing Toxic Lead Exposure Through Drinking Water Using Point-of-Use Filtration

December 2018

Citation: ELR 11074

Author: David Domagala Mitchell

Lead exposure through drinking water is an acute and persistent problem in the United States. The Flint, Michigan, water crisis brought national attention to this problem, but every city is at risk where lead-containing materials are present in water infrastructure and building plumbing. Preventing childhood exposure to lead is the consensus policy in the medical community and exposure costs the U.S. tens of billions of dollars annually, but the federal Lead and Copper Rule requires remediation only after lead is present at levels considered medically unsafe, and relies on an inherently unreliable testing program. Recent federal and state efforts to reduce exposure focus resources on lead pipe replacement and testing to identify lead risk; neither course adequately protects the public. This Article recommends promoting point-of-use filtration to remove lead, an approach that has received little attention despite the fact that filtration technology is inexpensive and very effective.

Major David Domagala Mitchell is a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Air Force currently serving as an environmental litigation attorney.

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