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Tag Archives: copper water contamination

  • Detroit Schools Turn Off Drinking Water Over Lead Contamination Concerns

    Public schools in Detroit are shutting off their drinking water due to concerns of copper and lead contamination, after high levels of these heavy metals were found in samples taken from several school buildings, Detroit Free Press recently reported.

    The district superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, has indicated that schools will make water coolers and bottled water available to students when they return to classes this week.

    Recent tests conducted on public water supplies in 24 schools in Detroit found at least one drinking water source, i.e. tap or water fountain, at 16 of the schools had elevated levels of lead and/or copper at concentrations deemed to be unsafe.

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    According to Vitti, 18 other schools have already had their drinking water sources shut off due to water contamination issues identified prior to this latest scare. More than fifty other schools were also tested, but while there is no indication that the water supply at these schools is tainted with copper or lead, officials are erring on the side of caution as they await the results of tests conducted on water samples taken from these schools.

    "Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our students and employees, I am turning off all drinking water in our schools until a deeper and broader analysis can be conducted to determine the long-term solutions for all schools," Vitti said in a public statement.

    There are more than 100 public schools within the Detroit district, but authorities have not released any details with regard to the water tests or given any indication as to what could have contributed to the high levels of lead and copper in the drinking water of affected schools.

    However, the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, who are jointly responsible for supplying drinking water to the city, released a joint statement blaming the schools' aging water infrastructure for the water quality issues they are experiencing, saying they do not affect consumers across the city as the treated drinking water they supply surpasses all drinking water standards for safety and quality. According to the statement, there are no lead water pipes connected to the schools' plumbing; copper and lead can leach into drinking water if pipes that contain these metals corrode.

    Exposure to heavy metals such as lead and copper in drinking water can pose a number of serious health issues, the EPA regulates that water systems need to be fixed when concentrations of these heavy metals exceed safety levels, which is set at zero for lead.

    Children are particularly vulnerable to negative health effects of lead, as these occur at a much lower exposure level in children compared to adults. Even small doses can have a serious impact on the health of a child — exposure to lead at low levels can damage the nervous system, cause learning difficulties and impair hearing and formation and healthy functioning of blood cells in children, while higher levels can cause cognitive and behavioral disorders, and delayed puberty.

    This precautionary move to protect learners from potential contamination follows the ongoing water crisis in Flint, where residents have been exposed to dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water putting the broader community at risk.

    If you are concerned about the quality of water your child is exposed to while attending classed, you can take measures to ensure they remain safe. Invest in a portable water filter bottle or water purification kit that will remove lead, copper and other dangerous heavy metals as well as other harmful contaminants your child may be exposed to on a daily basis.

  • The Dose Makes the Poison: Berkey Filters Keep Copper Out of Your Drinking Water

    Can an essential nutrient become a poison? Absolutely.

    Copper Exposure from Drinking Water

    Because copper is such a common element, deficiency is extremely rare, except in the case medical problems disrupting nutrient absorption. Most people get plenty of copper in a basic healthful diet.

    According to the Environmental Protection Agency: "Some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level may, with short term exposure, experience gastrointestinal distress, and with long-term exposure may experience liver or kidney damage. People with Wilson's Disease should consult their personal doctor if the amount of copper in their water exceeds the action level."

    How Does Copper Get Into Drinking Water

    In addition to naturally occurring copper, mining, farming, and manufacturing operations release copper into the environment, including rivers and lakes providing drinking water to millions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "Lakes and rivers that have been treated with copper compounds to control algae, or that receive cooling water from power plants, can have high levels of copper. Soils can also contain high levels of copper, especially if they are near copper smelting plants."

    Copper is also commonly used in plumbing supplies, where it can leach into the water sitting in household pipes. A water utility may deliver water with copper at safe levels which then becomes contaminated by corrosion of the plumbing materials belonging to the water system customers.

    Copper Pipe Joint Corrosion

    You cannot see, taste, or smell copper dissolved in water. The only way to know for sure if you have a contamination problem is by having your water tested. EPA warms: "You should be particularly suspicious if your home has copper pipes. if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water, stained dishes or laundry, or if your non-plastic plumbing is less than five years old."

    Copper Pipe Cross Section Corrosion

    How Much Copper is Safe to Drink?

    The Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for copper is 1.3 mg/L or 1.3 ppm.

    What Does the EPA Do About Copper in Drinking Water?

    EPA requires water utilities to collect tap water samples from sites served by the system. If more than 10 percent of samples exceed the copper action level of 1.3 milligrams per Liter (mg/L), water utlilites must take additional steps to reduce the corrosivity of the water.

    Berkey Water Filters Remove 95% of Detectible Copper from Drinking Water

    Because even people who are served by water supplies with safe levels of copper can have a contamination problem within their homes, point of service water filters are a smart defense. The Black Berkey Filter Elements that come standard with all the Berkey systems remove 95% and higher of detectible copper and other heavy metals.

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