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Lead Contamination Issues Plague Newark, NJ Water


Most Americans were shocked when the full extent of the Flint, Michigan lead contamination crisis became public knowledge. Flint, however, is far from an isolated incident. The overall water infrastructure of the United States currently holds a D rating from the American Society of Engineers. As pipes and lines continue to age, cities around the country are experiencing severe water contamination issues.

The latest city hit hard by revelations of lead in the water supply is Newark, New Jersey. Erik D. Olson, a representative of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement to CNN that the city “has gradually gone from absolutely denying there are any lead problems to now admitting they have an issue.”

Newark’s Lead Problem

A recent report from the New Jersey Department of Health revealed that the city of Newark has more children under the age of 6 with elevated lead levels in their blood than any other municipality in the state. Worse, the NRDC conducted field testing and concluded that the lead levels in Newark’s public drinking water are “approximately the same” as those found in Flint, Michigan before corrective action was taken.

How is lead finding its way into the drinking water? According to city officials, water is lead-free when it leaves the two treatment facilities. In addition, the water mains used to transport water around the city are made of steel and iron.

The problem of lead contamination occurs when the water reaches local service pipes, many of which are made of lead. The city does not implement enough corrosion control, and as a result the water flowing through pipes is highly corrosive. The old pipes underneath your home can get eaten away by corrosive water, causing alarming levels of lead to be present in your drinking water. The NRDC alerted the city of the problem in 2017, but they failed to take action. The nonprofit joined the Newark Education Workers Caucus to begin litigation against Newark, which continues today.

The Health Effects of Lead

In 2015, 10% of the homes tested in Newark contained drinking water with lead contamination measuring 27 parts per billion (ppb) or higher. This is nearly double the action level for lead of 15 ppb. However, according to the Environmental Protection Agency there is no safe level of lead contamination in public drinking water. The organization has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero.

Miniscule amounts of lead contamination can cause lasting negative health consequences, especially for children, pregnant women and seniors. Toxic metals like lead are persistent, meaning they don’t easily leave your body and will accumulate over time if you are exposed to lead for a prolonged period of time.

Children can experience hearing loss, cognitive impairments, weight gain, behavioral problems, abdominal pain and the development of ADHD at lead levels of less than 10 micrograms per deciliter in the bloodstream. Prolonged lead exposure can cause nerve disorders, cardiovascular problems, kidney disease, infertility and hypertension. Learn more about the health effects of lead at our education center.

Safeguard Your Water From Lead Contamination

Last week New Jersey officials began offering bottled water to concerned residents as an alternative to the contaminated public water. The long-term solution for Newark’s lead problem is to replace the lead service pipes that are causing the widespread lead corrosion. This could take years to implement — in the meantime, families in Newark should install a comprehensive lead water filter to protect their family from the dangers of drinking lead.

You don’t have to spend a fortune for effective filtration. Order a Countertop Drinking Filter System for less than $100 to experience a lead reduction rate exceeding 99%. This compact system also deals with common contaminants like chlorine, chloramines, cysts, VOCs, THMs, PFOA and PFOS. Or choose a 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis System for pure, high-quality drinking water. In addition to taking care of your lead problem, the system filters cysts, arsenic, fluoride, turbidity, copper, chromium and many other contaminants.

These point-of-use systems, typically installed under your kitchen sink, are the more effective solution for lead contamination compared to point-of-entry systems. The reason for this is simple — the source of the lead could be in your own home! Owners of lead water filters should test their water regularly, as water filters may need to be changed more often due to elevated lead levels.

Discover other options for lead filtration at our lead education page.

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