Report Finds That Chicago Tap Water Is Full of Brain-Damaging Lead
When you turn a faucet on to get water in your home, you expect it to be safe. Unfortunately, for thousands of Americans that we know of, it’s not.
In 2015, in Flint Michigan, citizens discovered that they were drinking water tainted with high lead levels. Most people believed that this event would be a wake-up call to the government. Both federal and local leaders promised to do better and improve infrastructure.
It would appear, for the time being at least, that no-one learned a lesson from this travesty. Recent testing shows that Chicago water also contains lead. Let’s look at the dangers of lead in drinking water and what you can do to keep your family safe.
Why Lead In Drinking Water Is Bad
Lead is absorbable into the body in a number of ways. Old paint containing lead can chip, which is the most common way it enters into a child’s system. People can also digest or inhale lead.
Once it gets into the body, lead attaches to red blood cells. From there, it moves into soft tissues, such as your lungs. If it gets into a person’s bones, it stays there for decades. If a lead-infected bone breaks later in life, lead escapes into a person’s bloodstream. Pregnant women can also pass lead-poisoning on to their unborn children.
Once lead reaches the brain, cells absorb it. Most of the time, this affects two areas of the brain: the frontal cortex and hippocampus.
Your frontal cortex is responsible for abstract thought, attention, and planning. The hippocampus is where learning and memory happens.
The dilemma facing researchers and doctors is the complexity of brains. No two brains respond the same way to lead poisoning. Age, genetics, and the amount of lead exposure all play a role in how symptoms present. Young children and boys tend to be the groups affected the most.
There is one frightening constant, however: exposure to lead in developing minds causes severe and permanent effects. As scientists learn more about lead exposure, they find themselves facing a stark reality. The consequences are worse than they thought.
Some of the things affected by lead in the brain include:
- how signals pass within the brain
- the storage of memories
- cells ability to get energy
- resulting in life-long learning disabilities
- behavioral problems
- lowered IQ scores.
In short, it’s not an illness that goes away with a trip to the doctor and some medication. There are real, life-long consequences for people. Many of the problems aren’t easy to detect, meaning that an entire generation of people in Flint and Chicago is in danger.
There are few treatments for lead poisoning and exposure. For high-levels of lead in the body, children undergo chelation therapy. Chelation is a chemical that binds to lead, stopping absorption.
Chelation protects peripheral organs, but once there is damage, there’s not much a doctor can do.
For low-levels of lead in the blood, there is no treatment. The effects of low exposure aren’t fully understood yet. There are some in the scientific community that fear lead can alter a persons genome and personality.
Recent Problems With Chicago Water
The city of Chicago offered its residents test kits to check their water for lead. Over the past two years, over 2800 homes tested their water. According to research done by the Chicago Tribune, nearly 70% of the home’s water tested positive for lead.
Tap water in 30% of the homes contained lead levels that are higher than the maximum amount allowed in bottled water.
The tests found alarming amounts throughout the city.
Part of the reason for the lead in Chicago water is due to lead service lines. Before 1986, when Congress banned these types of lines, Chicago required them between street mains and homes.
The city of Chicago is in the midst of a project to overhaul their water system. This seems like good news, right? Unfortunately, you’d be wrong.
Even after borrowing hundreds of millions of dollars, Mayor Emanuel’s administration plans on keeping the lead service lines. It appears, for the time being at least, that the people of Chicago have to wait and see if they are the next Flint, Michigan.
Other Communities Face Similar Issues
A lot of people think that only bigger cities face water-quality concerns. There is, however, an epidemic brewing across the country.
CNN reported that 18 million people in America live in areas where water companies are in violation of federal law. On top of that, the EPA knows about these problems and is doing little to hold utility companies accountable.
5300 water systems are in violation of the EPA’s lead and copper rule. Many of the systems failed to report contamination to their residents, failed to test water for lead, and weren’t treating water.
The EPA is also aware of systems that use out-dated testing methods to cheat the system. Therefore, there could be millions more that are drinking dangerous water.
Are you staring suspiciously at your faucet yet?
Just wait, there’s more.
Cities recycle tap water. To keep it safe for consumption, municipalities use chemicals, such as fluoride, to kill bacteria and harmful elements.
The inclusion of fluoride is a controversial subject. On one hand, fluoride helps build strong teeth. It’s in toothpaste and other oral care products. There are some studies, however, that point out the dangers of too much fluoride.
Fluoride exposure leads to arthritis, thyroid problems, accelerates puberty in females and calcifies the pineal gland.
These health concerns are just the beginning. It can also weaken a child’s cognitive ability and harm your kidneys.
According to the EPA and other agencies, the fluoride in water isn’t harmful. There are regulations in place that limit the amount of fluoride in water. This information seems comforting until you ask one question:
Isn’t their regulations concerning the amount of lead in water as well?
If utility companies are able to ignore those rules without consequence, why wouldn’t they ignore other regulations? After seeing what’s happened in Flint and Chicago, should people trust the EPA and local governments to do what’s right?
Clean Water Is A Necessity And Basic Human Right
Think of all the daily interactions with water. From the time someone wakes up, they take a shower, brush their teeth, and drink it.
Even if you don’t drink tap water, you still make coffee with it. You still use water for ice cubes and tea. Pets still drink it. It’s an inescapable part of life.
One way to protect your family is a water filter. These filters reduce the amounts of contaminants. They eliminate things that might slip through even the best city water testing facilities.
Water filters also protect you if your city isn’t doing their due diligence. The water department in Chicago has millions of dollars at their disposal to ensure the safety of their water. If Chicago water is unsafe to drink, there’s a good chance yours could be as well.
Choosing A Water Filter
First, decide what type of filter you want. Activated Carbon filters remove heavy metals, such as lead and mercury, along with parasites and chlorine. These are typically found under sinks and inside water filtration jugs.
Reverse Osmosis filters remove perchlorates, which get into the ground and infect water supplies. They are easy to install and use, and keep your family safe from lead and other dangerous substances.
Next, you have to choose where you’ll place the water filter. Localized filters attach to sinks, refrigerators, and showers. Point of Entry filters protects your entire house by filtering water before it enters your system.
Undersink filters are more effective than the ones found in containers. Added pressure forces the water through the distillation filters. If you are a renter or need a cheaper solution to your problem, these are your best bet. Point of Entry filters provides a permanent solution to your water filtration needs.
Look For NSF Certification
The Public Health And Safety Organization serves all countries, ensuring products meet high standards. An NSF certification means that you get a quality product. The NSF tests the products to make sure remove the toxins their makers claim they do. As long as you change your filters according to the manufacturer’s recommended timeline, they will work as intended.
Don’t Do As The Romans
The Roman Empire expanded over a large swath of the known world on the strength of their economy, military, and culture.
Most people thought that the Empire would last forever until they fell apart. Many historical and scientific experts believe lead in their drinking water caused their downfall.
What we’re seeing with Flint and Chicago water is reminiscent of this. The difference is that we now have the technology to protect our families. Water filters are one of the simplest solutions for homeowners that want to ensure their family’s long-term health.
If you need a water-filter but don’t know where start, feel free to contact us today. We can help you find the perfect filter for your home.