A leading scientist has raised concerns about lead levels in Portland’s water supply. Dr. Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech professor who first identified toxic levels of lead in the water in Flint, Michigan, spoke to Orgon Public Broadcasting saying, “This is worse than Flint.
"In Flint, it went on for 18 months. It was a national and international outcry, thousands of stories, dozens of documentary movies. In Portland, they’re over the action level again and it’s been going on for several decades.”
Contact the LeadLine at leadline.org or call 503-988-4000 to receive a free lead-in-water test.
Portland Water Bureau rejects the comparison with Flint saying far fewer homes are affected and it is working with Oregon Health Authority to make improvements quickly.
The main problem is that Portland's water supply, while high quality, is naturally corrosive and causes problems in houses with copper pipes soldered with lead. According to the water bureau, fewer than 10 percent of Portland homes have these pipes, most of them built between 1970 and 1985.
“Recent monitoring results from homes exceeded the regulatory level for lead in drinking water," the bureau says on its website. We are making treatment improvements by April 2022 to reduce the levels of lead in drinking water."
A spokeswoman for the water bureau told OPB they expect to implement a plan to reduce lead early next week once it’s reviewed by the health authority.
The water bureau offers free lead-in-water testing to all residential customers and childcare providers. People can contact the LeadLine at leadline.org or 503-988-4000 to receive a free lead-in-water test.
High levels of lead in drinking water should be remedied as soon as possible and the Environmental Protection Agency has strict rules to protect water. Lead is particularly dangerous during pregnancy and can interfere with children’s development, as well as causing health problems, especially for people with kidney disease or high blood pressure.