District residents who live in homes where lead pipes were partially replaced could still be at risk for lead poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said residents should drink bottled water until their homes can be tested.
The conclusion reverses previous findings by the CDC.
In 2004, the agency released a report that said exposure to contaminated drinking water did NOT pose a significant risk to children.
Many experts blasted that study, saying it was based on inaccurate data. In the new report, the CDC acknowledges that between 2000 and 2006 children in homes with lead service lines were at increased risk for lead poisoning.
The CDC also concludes that partially replacing lead pipes does not fix the problem and could actually increase lead levels in the water.
In the new report, the CDC advises people with lead pipes to drink bottled water until their water can be tested.
While it is a big switch for the CDC, many experts are saying, "What took you so long?"
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D.C. Water said it has been following other research for quite some time and has already made changes to reduce lead levels. A spokesperson with the utility said they stopped aggressively replacing lead pipes several years ago when experts raised concerns about potential temporary spikes in lead following replacement. Now, D.C. Water replaces lead pipes when replacing connected water mains.
"DC Water has proactively responded to research relative to lead exposure after a lead pipe replacement and implemented various protective measures for residents," D.C. Water General Manager George S. Hawkins said. "These measures include a six-month supply of water filters and free follow-up lead testing."
Lead levels in D.C. are below the EPA action level, D.C. Water said. Samples included both houses with partial lead pipes and full lead pipes.
Results can vary from house to house. Anyone who want D.C. Water to test their home can contact the utility.