Lead Pipes Make Up Nearly One Tenth of US Water Service Lines

A decade after the Flint crisis captured national attention, tens of thousands of US water transmission lines can still leach dangerous chemicals.

1 minute read

April 30, 2024, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Flint River with blue sign on post in winter.

lindaparton / Adobe Stock

Despite the media coverage and outrage of residents in Flint, Michigan, communities around the country still face the risk of lead poisoning from corroded pipes, according to a report from Emily Kwong, Pien Huang, Rachel Carlson, and Rebecca Ramirez for NPR.

“In the last decade, the city's water quality has improved. Thousands of lead pipes in Flint have been replaced, but not all. That means that not every resident in Flint has clean, fresh water.” And the problem doesn’t stop in Flint. “A 2023 report from the EPA revealed that in 2021, lead made up 9% of the nation's service line infrastructure, representing an estimated 9.2 million pipes.”

Improvements to the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule proposed in late 2023 could finally require water systems to provide accurate information and enforce the replacement of lead pipes. However, a proposed exemption would give cities like Chicago an extension, letting them take multiple decades to replace infrastructure.

Friday, April 26, 2024 in NPR

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