City Officials: Tap Water Shows Elevated Lead Levels

DEP: Run Cold For 30 Seconds Before Cooking, Drinking

(updated Fri 11/5/2010 7:15am)

NEW YORK (CBS 2 / 1010 WINS / WCBS 880) — Whether you live in a house or an apartment, this could impact your life.

There’s a water warning in New York City.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

The Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday wait before you drink what’s coming out of your faucet, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

Like most people, when Natalia Cole of Maspeth, Queens heard there were elevated levels of lead in the city’s water supply, she got a bit nervous.

“There’s nothing I can do,” she said.

But the city said what was found was an increase in lead so small, it won’t hurt you.

“The levels that were detected, which were very slightly above the action level that the EPA defines, don’t pose any clear public health risk,” said NYC DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway.

Holloway and Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, held a joint press conference about the slight increase in lead in the city’s water, and urged all New Yorkers to run cold water first before using it for drinking or cooking.

Guzman talked with Dr. John Rosen of Montefiore Hospital, an expert in lead poisoning among children. He said that while there’s not enough lead in water to be a problem …

“When it comes to lead, it’s always better to be safe than sorry because according to the U.S. CDC, according to the U.S. EPA, there really is no level of lead that’s safe in children,” Dr. Rosen said.

The potential for lead in the water increases in buildings and homes built before 1987, because lead solder was used to seal pipe joints. And for buildings put up before 1961, there’s an even greater concern — because the pipelines that brought water to those homes were made entirely of lead.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

The city monitors water in older buildings through regular testing as part of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In this year’s tests, conducted from June to September, 14 percent — or 30 out of 222 tested buildings — showed lead levels higher than the accepted benchmark.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires local utilities to take action if 10 percent or more of tested buildings have lead levels of more than 15 parts per billion.

Too much lead can damage the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells.

The city said drinking water is rarely the cause of lead poisoning but can contribute to a person’s overall exposure.

The guidelines say a tap needs to be run if the water in that faucet has not been used for six hours or longer.

The last time the city’s water triggered such a response was in 2005, the DEP said.

In the past decade, other cities have similarly exceeded the EPA benchmark, including Boston, Washington and Portland, Ore.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • Iron Maiden

    I moved to NYC 2 years ago from the UK. I basically have got sicker and sicker over the course of 2 years, and a few months ago figured out that it was due to an increase in heavy metals in my system (lead, copper, mercury). I can’t tell you how horrific this has been, and the point is twofold. 1. I believe the drinking water here in Manhattan increased my body burden and 2. you really have to have a genetic tendency not to be able to excrete heavy metals effectively in order for this problem to adversely affect you. I have always had a problem with this, it’s just that living here made it worse and kind of tipped the scales over into a place where things really started to go wrong. And make no mistake, the results of having high levels of what are essential neurotoxins in your body are horrific, both mentally and physically. I’m a few months into Chelation, and hopefully on the up, but it’s a long and painful road. So if you feel ill, and noone can really explain why, this may be a good place to start!

  • commandx

    The Department of Homeland Security needs to start executing anyone who talks about Kenya without being able to point it out on a map.

  • anikonov

    If lead is in a water, you can run water for hours before cooking but it would not help you reduce the level of the pollutant.

    Do not be a hamster to buy a story from chemistry-deprived journalists of AP and CBS.

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  • Off Duty

    So!…….That explains andrew cuomo’s recent victory.

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  • fredlave

    When I was growing up in Brooklyn many many years ago my parents kept reminding me to let the water run a bit before filling a glass or a pot. Have all the tree huggers decided that saving a little water is more important than drooling children.

    • commandx

      Treehuggers??? Drooling children? What? What are you talking about? This is a story about a minimal increase in NYC water lead levels. Snap to it.

  • CleanFun

    I suspected something was wrong with their water a long time ago.

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  • Ms. Williams

    A good lot of you are morons, protected by the anonymity of the Internet. It’s a topic about water, and you’re cracking tired jokes about Liberals and the Democratic system. IT’S WATER. This isn’t some video game where an evil lead character has put poison in the water supply. There aren’t any suits and labcoat men trying to kill you. It sounds like (according to this vague article) this is an internal issue with the plumbing and some other element that probably can be fixed with a series of filters in one’s home if you feel so inclined to do something about it.

    Grow up and clean your water. That’s all. Leave the tripe about Kenyan Idiots and all that for a REAL blog about politics. How can you get political about something that’s for everyone? And I mean on the surface. I KNOW one can get political about who is in charge of the water commissions and all that. but really, REALLY? You can’t bring politics into an argument….or lack, thereof.

    • SP

      All of this concern is about fifteen seconds in thirty-two years. That is the equivalent of fifteen parts per billion!

  • KooKoo

    Dont wory, Adru Cwomo wil sav us! Ther is No Recesion, the Recesion is ova! The air is safe @ Grond Zero! Uggggghhhh Im feelin faint! Must b all the meds in the waata! or to much salt in my burga! i need a smok!

  • Moses871

    This would explain their voting Democrat.

    You’d have to be brain damaged to keep electing these idiots that have destroyed your city and your state.

  • Rick A.

    Is this information from the same people who said that the air at ground zero was OK?

  • sirock

    Maybe this explains why NY keeps voting for the Kenyan Village idiot. It must be something in the water nobody can be that stupid,

  • sirock

    Maybe this explains why NY keeps voting for the Kenyan Village idiot. It must be something in the water

  • glenp

    the LIBERAL MECCA and they are poisoning their constituency

    this sounds like the clintonesque ARESENIC IN THE WATER after Bush won

  • Ed

    Phil –

    The Nov. 4th evening edition wasn’t clear at all, as you noted. The Nov. 5th morning update is a little better. The big question here: Is this a one-time spike, or a sustained condition?

    The city’s next steps should run along these lines:

    1. Look at these sample locations to determine whether several of those are the problem. If the water sits in the pipes longer than overnight, that can skew the results.

    2. Start looking at the water chemistry to determine what sort of treatment process might work to change the pH of the water, so that the water doesn’t leach the lead out of the pipes and fixtures. Somethimes AquaMag works (Thanks Waterbearer!), and sometimes it doesn’t.

    3. Take 2 more sets of samples over the next year to determine whether this a one-time spike, or whether it’s a sustained condition that requires some level of treatment.

    I work in the drinking water field in the Western US, and we have to deal with the same thing.

    • Waterbearer

      Thanks Ed! But I don’t think anybody is listening to our professional opinions. I’ve operated this plant for 30 years. Most of it dealing with the Hellish EPA!

  • tramky

    First of all, people must understand that conservation always increases the cost of whatever it is being ‘conserved’. The one thing that conservation measures do NOT conserve is money.

    This article suggests that the increased levels of lead are due to the pipes in buildings IN New York City, not from lead solution in the water coming from its sources in the Adirondacks. Lead pipes, lead solder.

    But the doublespeak is telling. Among the scariest tales spun by environmentalists and their government agency enablers are about lead, but these guys are telling us that there ARE safe levels of lead, so presumably the OTHER stuff we’ve been told for decades isn’t exactly true, which is to say they are a LIE.

    So who–and what–are we to believe. My hunch is that it doesn’t matter. Most of the environmental regulations & guidelines should be repealed, and the government agencies and their hangers-on, the consultants & so-called experts, eliminated. Most of it is totally unnecessary and represents nothing less than a calculated scam to bilk taxpayers and to further the government class. Dump it, folks, they’re killing us.

    • CA

      How come no one is talking about the Fracking going on in PA?? Its a trickle down…

  • Joannie

    They tax us enough for water usage, that can’t pay the costs to filter it too? Where is this money going? Oh, I get it. The city wants us to drink bottled water to make us pay that tax as well. We’ll now pay to use tap water just to bathe and wash AND pay the taxes on bottled water that are smaller than one gallon.

  • Waterbearer

    It’s most likely caused by a Ph imbalance which makes the water slightly acidic. This “slightly acidic” water will leach Lead and Copper from pipes and fixtures. The system I operate adds a slight amount of a product called AquaMag to the water. This balances the Ph level, and also adds a protective covering/film to the insides of pipes, fixtures, etc.. Problem solved!
    In NYC’s case, running the water for a short time will remove the slightly contaminated water, and bring fresh water into the tap.

  • gommygoomy

    This explains sooooooooooooo much.

  • Pat K

    maybe there was tampering?

  • Bourgeois

    I have said for years that there has to be something in the water to make so many people vote for Democrats.

  • Frank

    I guess liberalism really is a mental disorder.

  • Justin

    We’ve been told over and over, “Don’t let the water run.” Now we’re being told, “Let the water run.” What sort of paranoid schizophrenic loonies are telling us these things? Are we to believe them this time? Are they creating another pseudo-crisis to justify their lofty salaries? The questions are endless.

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  • Truthinspending

    This article contains several contradictory statements. Did the author actually receive anything beyond a sixth grade education?

  • Jack P

    Can’t they feed this water to the bed bugs to weigh them down and eventually kill them?

  • Kathy

    Too much lead huh? Well, that does explain alot about New Yorkers.

    • regulas

      Excellent observation!

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  • Sal Governale

    Mayor is too busy telling is how much margarine I can have him our cookies.

    • Jim Moore

      Were you stationed in Anchorage?

  • Dana

    The problem is that you can’t trust the government. The accepted lead level is probably some arbitrarily low number set by the EPA that put in proper perspective and priority with the other risks we face on average would not be a major concern for a normal person. The problem lies in that people who have no intention of paying for it will demand a fix.

  • cbs news viewer

    Special thanks to cbs reporter Palblo Guzman for this story

    Can cbs and all you out there do this simple water test and post your feedback here on the result. I am finding more funny thing abou nyc water.

    Test… take a white cloth or towel anything white wash it clean and tie it to the faucet. Use something that at the end after you do the test you will trash or send it to dep. Make sure there is not water filter attachment just your plain faucet. Use your faucet normally like you would daily. After a few hours or days you will notice the white cloth turns brown. Now what is this brown stuff that we are putting into our body? This is scary.

    AFter 911 we started doing this test, back in those days the white cloth turned black like the soil in our flower pot. Then as time pass we notice it was green. Now it is brown. Appreciate if cbs can look into this and do an updated report on your 6pm news broadcast?

  • Parker

    They found extra high levels in the NYTimes building – especially in Paul Krugman’s water pitcher.

    (I kid.)

  • rich

    The EPA has run amok!

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