- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

Thousands of new Brita water filters are expected to arrive this week and will be distributed to D.C. residents who have lead service lines and are pregnant, nursing or have children younger than 6, city officials said.

Jo’Ellen Countee, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Emergency Management Agency, said yesterday that city officials will announce today where and when affected residents will be able to get the one of the 7,000 filters. She said city officials hope to have more filters delivered by next month.

Mrs. Countee’s office currently has about 2,400 filters at its disposal.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority to provide bottled water or filters for about 23,000 city homes thought to have lead service lines.

Tests have shown the drinking water in these homes has high levels of lead, which can cause kidney and brain damage and, in some cases, death. Pregnant women and very young children are the most vulnerable.

Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams, said yesterday many of the lead pipes are located in older neighborhoods in Wards 1, 3, 6 and 8.

“What we found is that the lead pipes are scattered pretty evenly throughout the city,” Mr. Bullock said. “A lot of them are concentrated in Georgetown and on Capitol Hill.”

City officials have said the affected homes will have filters within 30 days, per EPA recommendations.

Over the weekend, District officials handed out about 300 filters at the D.C. Armory and Reeves Center in Northwest.

“There were people waiting in line when we opened at 10 a.m.,” Mrs. Countee said. “We had a translator to handle non-English speakers.”

Mrs. Countee said city officials checked proof of residency during Saturday’s giveaway, which lasted until 2 p.m. Residents who are not pregnant, nursing or parents of children younger than 6 are not eligible to receive water filters, she said.

Meanwhile, about 100 residents got their blood tested for lead exposure at two clinics in the District.

Last Thursday, the city handed out 300 water filters to licensed home day-care providers.

Concerns over the tainted drinking water in the District has spread to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Officials in Fairfax and Loudoun counties, Vienna, Falls Church and Fairfax City are conducting wide-ranging lead tests after preliminary tests showed elevated lead levels in Arlington County, which, like the District, receives its water from the Washington Aqueduct.

In Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission is considering conducting the same tests out of concern for its 1.6 million customers.

• This article is based in part on wire reports.

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