Pennsylvania Tap Water Lead Contamination

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Allentown, PA: Lead contamination has been found in 18 cities in Pennsylvania with levels higher than those found in Flint, Michigan (3.21%).

According to a 2014 study from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, those cities are: Allentown: 23.11%; Altoona: 20.45%; Scranton: 19.45%; Johnstown: 18.26%; Reading: 16.14%; Easton: 15.81%; Bethlehem: 14.32%; Chester: 13.73%; Wilkes-Barre: 3.17%; Lebanon: 12.99%; York: 12.41%; Harrisburg: 12.16%; Erie: 12.09%; Williamsport: 12.01%; Norristown: 11.8%; Lancaster: 11.03% ; Philadelphia: 10.19%; and Pittsburgh: 8.32%.

It is believed that the lead exposure rates in Pennsylvania are largely linked to aging, deteriorating lead-based paint (chips and dust) from deteriorating homes, and not contaminated water, as is the case in Michigan.

Lead is a toxic agent that can damage the nervous system, and even small amounts can cause serious health problems. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. In children symptoms include developmental delay, learning difficulties, irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, sluggishness and fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting, constipation, and hearing loss. Lead poisoning occurs when lead builds up in the body, often over a period of months or years. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

According to a report in the New York Times, "unsafe levels of lead have turned up in tap water in city after city in the US, including Durham and Greenville, N.C., in 2006; in Columbia, S.C., in 2005; and last July in Jackson, Miss., where officials waited six months to disclose the contamination," as well as in scores of other places in recent years."

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Reader Comments

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How long does a family have to live in Allentown PA to have damage to ones family. One of my children was diagnosed with learning disability wile in school.

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