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State says city of Wayne lead exceedance shows 2019 Lead and Copper Rule is effective

Water service line coming into my house in the lower corner of the basement.
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio

State environmental regulators say the recent lead action level exceedance in the city of Wayne shows that Michigan's 2019 Lead and Copper Rule is working as intended, to catch more instances of high lead levels in drinking water.

A Lead Action Level Exceedance (ALE) was declared last week in the city of Wayne after more than 1-in-10 routine water samples from homes in the city tested higher than 15 parts per billion for lead. 15 ppb is the level at which action is required.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy say that since the beginning of 2019, Michigan’s strict Lead and Copper Rule has required a 1st liter sample that tests lead levels in the home plumbing and a fifth liter sample that tests lead levels in the service line. They say Wayne would not have had a lead Action Level Exceedance (ALE) without the 1st/5th liter sampling methodology.

Nine out of 60 sites with known lead service lines that were tested had results over 15 ppb. The highest result was 31 ppb.

The recent tests do not mean that all homes in the city are affected, but public health officials recommend that children under 18 and those who are pregnant only consume tap water that is run through a lead-reducing water filter in communities where an ALE has been declared.

It's believed the current exceedance is in part related to lead in lead service lines, rather than plumbing and fixtures inside the tested homes.

State officials say since their previous lead ALE in 2021, Wayne is required to test sixty locations with known lead service lines twice a year.

The Wayne County Health Division is offering qualifying residents free water filters and blood lead testing at its Wayne, MI location at 33030 Van Born Rd. on Wednesday August 2nd from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Wayne residents who are pregnant or who live in a home with children under 18 are eligible for one of the free filters and free blood lead testing. Residents enrolled in Medicaid or WIC are also eligible.

Lead is a metal found naturally in the environment. Lead can be found in paint, dust, soil, plumbing, household items, imported goods and materials used in jobs and hobbies. Almost everyone has been exposed to lead at some time in their life. Lead can be harmful to a person's health, but it is particularly hazardous to children and during pregnancy.

Lead can enter drinking water when it comes in contact with lead service lines or with lead plumbing inside your home. Steps to take to reduce lead in water:

  • Use a lead-reducing water filter
  • Run water before drinking or cooking to help flush lead-containing water from pipes, especially if the water has not been run for a prolonged period
  • Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking
  • Clean your faucet aerators
  •  Consider replacing older plumbing, pipes, and faucets that may add lead to water.
Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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