- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 3, 2004

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said yesterday that water from more city residences should be tested for lead levels because the substance was found in the tap water of Arlington homes that do not have lead service lines.

“We’ve been told repeatedly by the [D.C. Water and Sewer Authority] that the universe of concern for the District is limited to roughly 23,000 residents whose homes have lead service lines. Now we’re seeing elevated levels in homes in Arlington that don’t have lead service lines,” Mr. Williams said at his weekly news briefing. “Based on what we’ve seen in Arlington, some wider testing is in order.”

The District and Arlington both get water from the Washington Aqueduct, which is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Samples taken at more than 4,000 homes in the District since 2002 have found lead levels well above the safe range of 15 parts per billion established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Prior to the disclosure from Arlington County, city officials were targeting their efforts toward homes with lead service lines. About 23,000 of WASA’s 130,000 service lines contain lead.

Arlington County leaders said preliminary tests of tap water in eight homes that did not have lead service lines showed five had elevated lead levels.

“This raises the question whether or not the assumptions we have been making here, and have been operating under in our response to this problem, are good assumptions or certainly are the only assumptions,” Mr. Williams said.

WASA General Manager Jerry Johnson said he “would not want to speculate” on how the lead appeared in the Arlington homes, adding that the city of Falls Church, which also draws water from the Washington Aqueduct, has conducted tests that have not revealed high levels of lead.

“This still remains very much a mystery for us,” Mr. Johnson said.

Five city residents among 169 screened over the weekend were determined to have elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Dr. Daniel Lucey, interim chief health officer for the D.C. Department of Health, said yesterday that an analysis of a second group of 68 persons who underwent voluntary blood tests turned up no one with an elevated level of lead. Among them, he said, 27 were in the vulnerable population of children under 6, pregnant women or nursing mothers.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say lead exposure of 10 micrograms per deciliter or greater has been linked with behavior problems and learning disabilities.

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