The City of Alexandria is working to educate residents about the dangers of possible lead contamination in drinking water caused by plumbing systems in older homes that use lead soldered copper tubing or other plumbing components that use leaded materials.
The education boost comes in response to a recent finding by the Louisiana Department of Health that four confirmed cases of elevated lead levels in water samples were taken from residents of Alexandria homes as part of a routine testing process.
Michael Marcotte, director of Alexandria Utility Systems, stated that the elevated levels of lead were only found in insulated houses that contained either copper tubing with lead solder installed between 1982 and 1988 or lead tubing.
“The city of Alexandria has no pipes or utilities and the elevated lead levels were not in the city of Alexandria water distribution system,” said Marcotte.
The city’s water system is regularly tested for lead and other retention systems. As part of the Ministry of Health’s most recent routine lead testing program, residents of 30 homes submitted water samples for testing. The samples were collected and submitted by residents, and Alexandria City officials were not involved in the collection or testing process. Of these 30 samples, four were confirmed to have increased lead levels.
“We carefully monitor the safety of our water system and do everything we can to ensure that we fully comply with all safety guidelines,” said Jeffrey W. Hall, Mayor of Alexandria. “We have a fully accredited testing laboratory that was only re-accredited in January. We monitor our system daily and conduct regular tests to ensure the highest water quality. We test for chlorine levels, bacteriological agents, lead, copper and system corrosion values. And we’re testing for Naegleria fowleri, better known as the brain-eating amoeba. We are committed to proactively ensuring that the water we deliver to our customers is safe when it comes to their home. “
Marcotte added that in January 2011 the Alexandria City Water Department incorporated improvements to corrosion protection in the water system to reduce lead washout from pipes and solder in older homes.
“We do everything we can to ensure that the drinking water we provide to residents is safe. But we can only control our delivery system. If a home or business has lead pipes or copper pipes with lead solder, the chances are these pipes could be causing lead contamination on site, ”said Marcotte. “This is why we want to educate our residents, especially those in older homes who may have lead pipes or solder, so they can become aware of potential problems in their home’s plumbing system and take the right precautions to protect themselves and their families . “
Residents of houses built between 1982 and 1988, most likely made of materials that contain high levels of lead, can obtain information about testing their water by contacting the Alexandria City Water Department at 318-441-6216 .
As part of the awareness campaign, all water customers in the city of Alexandria will receive a notice explaining the dangers of lead in water and tips on how to minimize possible exposure. The announcement contains information on lead contamination in water as prescribed by the federal government, as well as details on the local findings. A note is also printed on the water bills. In addition, educational brochures will be available to the city with information on the dangers of lead and measures to reduce potential exposure, as well as information on the city’s website at www.cityofalexandriala.com.
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much gets into your body from drinking water or other sources. The greatest risk of exposure to lead is in infants, young children, and pregnant women. The most common sources of lead exposure are paint, dust, soil and the corrosion of household plumbing systems. For more information, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website at www.epa.gov/lead or contact your doctor for more information.
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