- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Toxic levels of lead have been found in drinking water at state-funded homes for disabled Texans, but their residents went untested for lead poisoning until a month after the lead was found.

Lead levels in blood usually drop by at least half after two to four weeks and by as much as 75 percent if pure water is substituted, The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/2aeo5fA ) reported. Residents at the state homes have been drinking bottled water since early May, the newspaper reported.

Of the 548 state home residents tested for lead exposure, 96 percent fell below two micrograms of lead per deciliter, or one-10th of a liter, of blood. However, 14 residents showed between two and four micrograms per deciliter and seven had between five and 10 micrograms per deciliter, the newspaper reported. A lead level of five micrograms or more per deciliter of blood is regarded as elevated, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

If a lead level in blood was five micrograms per deciliter when the switch was made to bottled water, it could be as low as 1.25 micrograms per deciliter a month later, said Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech civil and environmental engineering professor who led a research team that studied the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, where lead contamination was widespread.

“The general idea of measuring everyone’s blood from a month to a year after the harmful exposure has occurred is, unfortunately, a fairly standard practice employed by government agencies to downplay lead exposures occurring in public places. Claiming or implying that good blood-lead results a month after the last exposure could have occurred means that no one was hurt? That is just false,” he told the newspaper.

Officials with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, which operates the state homes, are “confident that the results of the blood tests are accurate,” agency spokeswoman Cecilia Cavuto told the newspaper.

The newspaper reported in May that the water at state-supported Living Centers in Brenham, El Paso and San Angelo contained high lead levels. The state agency began providing residents with bottled water a week later for drinking, cooking and brushing their teeth.

Extended exposure to high lead levels can cause brain damage, kidney and nervous system failure, and death. The National Toxicology Program in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported that lead levels in blood of less than five micrograms per deciliter “are associated with adverse health effects in children and adults.”


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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