• Business Business

Negligent builders and developers might be responsible for hidden peril underneath Florida: 'Some shady folks still used them'

"Every community deserves access to safe, clean drinking water," EPA administrator Michael Regan told the Tampa Bay Times. 

Florida has the most lead pipes

Photo Credit: iStock

Government data about the Sunshine State could provide a new moniker for Florida: the Lead Pipe State. 

That's because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that Florida has more lead pipes in its water systems — 1.16 million of them — than any other state, according to the Tampa Bay Times. 

Florida highlights a national problem, as some 9.2 million lead pipes carry drinking water to households around the country, the Times reports. It's a concern that has lingered for decades with severe health implications

As a result, the government plans to pump billions of dollars into lead-pipe-heavy states to tackle the problem. 

"Every community deserves access to safe, clean drinking water," EPA administrator Michael Regan told the Tampa Bay Times. 

Why are lead pipes dangerous? 

Drinking water contaminated with lead can cause heart problems, lower IQ rates among children, and anemia, among a list of other serious health problems, according to the EPA. 

Lead was spotlighted in 2014 during the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. Lead leached into the water supply, causing severe health problems for the community. 

Why are lead pipes still a concern? 

Craig Pittman has been following the lead pipe story for Florida Phoenix, a nonprofit news site. In a recent column, he said that the building and development industry is partially to blame for lingering lead concerns. 

Despite increased regulations during the decades, he wrote, lead solder, flux, and pipes were still being used. The government ramped up regulations on lead pipes in 1986. 

"Even after lead pipes were banned … some shady folks still used them, figuring they wouldn't get caught because the evidence was literally buried out of sight. Meanwhile, a lot of lead pipes were already in use all around the country," Pittman wrote

He talked to civil engineer Alison Adams, who works for the utility company Tampa Bay Water. Adams said the lead is often found after the public utility hookup, because it's in the materials the builders used. 

"Lead pipes were used in the building industry, not in public water supply," she said. "A utility's responsibility ends at the meter to a home. Lead pipes were used between the meter and in homes or businesses, including schools, as a matter of construction."

What's being done about lead in the water? 

The EPA highlighted the lead problem as part of a survey of 3,500 water systems around the country. The Times reported that about $625 billion is needed to upgrade the systems. 

President Joe Biden has promised $15 billion to clear out all of the nation's lead pipes, according to the Times. 

It's a lofty goal that will target states with the most lead. After Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York have the most lead pipes, the Times reports.

How can I test for lead at home? 

The EPA has a guide that outlines how to test your service line for lead. It includes details on the different faucets and fixtures that commonly contain the heavy metal. 

Join our free newsletter for cool news and actionable info that makes it easy to help yourself while helping the planet.

Cool Divider