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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Study Finds Lead in Drinking Water in Some Eastern Houston Homes

In work published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Dr. Garret Sansom, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, led a study in Manchester, a low-income neighborhood along the Houston Ship Channel considered an industrial site, known for generating and storing hazardous waste and discharging large amounts of air pollution. Researchers collected surveys from 13 randomly selected residents and collected tap water samples from 22 households. Researchers found that 30.8 percent of respondents indicated having concerns about their water. 75 percent of the residents who had concerns actually had lead in their water. Overall, 30 percent of the homes sampled had lead in the water, with 25 percent of these homes having children. Older homes with lead pipes, in conjunction with the chemicals used during the water purification process, are the underlying cause of lead contaminated water in Manchester.

According to Dr. Sansom, the water purification process in Houston uses chlorine and chloramines to purify tap water. However, these chemicals change the composition of the water, so that when it flows through old piping, it causes the pipes to leech lead into the drinking water. Replacing pipes in homes with older infrastructures is very costly for citizens and is beyond the means of most living in low-socioeconomic communities. The best long term solution is a lead abatement program, an initiative in which the state or local government will cover the cost of replacing lead pipes in older homes. Currently, the only solutions to the contaminated water in Manchester is to provide filters for people to use in their homes or change water use habits, such as letting water run freely before drinking it.

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