- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

DALLAS (AP) - Testing has revealed elevated lead levels in drinking water at three Texas State Supported Living Centers that house 590 disabled residents, according to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

The supported living centers in Brenham, El Paso and San Angelo are among 13 operated by the department, The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1TCXloz ) reported in its Saturday editions. Tests at the other 10 centers show the drinking water safe.

Agency officials said they are trying to find the source of the contamination.

The director of the Brenham center wrote a letter to families and guardians of its 272 residents, telling them that residents are using bottled water for drinking, cooking and teeth brushing.

“I want to assure you we are taking steps to ensure your family member is safe and corrective actions are underway at the center,” Ivy Benson wrote in the letter obtained by the newspaper.

She also said the center staff was being trained to recognize “signs and symptoms of high lead exposure.”

Corrosion of pipes that contain lead is commonly blamed for the problem. The Environmental Protection Agency says it’s more likely to be found in homes built before 1986.

The San Angelo center opened in 1969 and Brenham and El Paso five years later.

The EPA requires water systems to take steps to reduce lead levels if 10 percent of the samples exceed 15 parts per billion of lead. Samples from the Brenham, El Paso and San Angelo centers showed more than 104 parts per billion.

“These levels of contamination are just too dangerous for them to take no action,” said Dennis Borel, the executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.

Lead contamination can lead to brain impairment and slow development in young children. The EPA says it can contribute to increased blood pressure and heart, kidney and other problems for adults.

The Department of Aging and Disability Services last year began requiring quarterly testing of lead and copper levels at its centers.

Agency spokeswoman Cecilia Cavuto said the department made the testing changes after a lead pipe at the Austin supported living center was shown in 2014 to have caused water contamination. The latest test in January showed no problem at the Austin center.


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

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