Flint Michigan isn’t the only place with a drinking water crisis. All across the country, numerous communities face water insecurity due to outdated water infrastructure. There are an estimated 6-10 million lead service lines still in this country, which connect homes to drinking water mains in streets. As water flows through to houses, the lead is slowly eroded, resulting in lead contaminated drinking water. And this isn’t the only source of lead. Lead based paints, common in houses built before 1978, can result in dust and paint chips. If ingested, these can also result in lead poisoning. Leaded gasoline was common throughout the US in the 20th century, with the negative health impacts still being discovered. There are also still numerous areas with lead in the soil due to the decades of car exhaust with leaded gasoline. This can lead to lead poisoning from exposure to soil, particularly in areas near major highways and heavily trafficked streets.
Lead exposure is particularly harmful to children and pregnant people. Exposure to lead can cause issues such as damage to the brain and nervous system, slowed growth and development, learning and behavior problems, and hearing and speech problems. Read more about the health impacts of lead and what you can do to reduce lead at the tap (in English and Spanish) here.
The problem is particularly prominent in lower income households and BIPOC communities that can’t always afford the necessary remediation efforts. This is why the solutions must have an equity lens, and focus on the areas most heavily impacted by lead.
Clean Water Action Minnesota is continuing to advocate for funding and programs to improve lead remediation efforts at all levels. This includes education, advocacy, and community powerbuilding. We are committed to fighting for lead abatement and removal until the problem has been completely eliminated.
As an organization, we will always fight for everyone’s right to clean, affordable drinking water. We must ensure that Minnesota’s drinking water is safe, from the source to the tap. Learn more about our work to put drinking water first here.
Getting rid of lead sources in your home can be expensive. If you live in the seven county metro area, check out this fact sheet for local lead abatement resources. Some counties offer sizable financial assistance to ensure that you can make your home lead free as easily as possible.
Saint Paul Regional Water is implementing a 10 year program to replace all lead service lines cost free. Learn more about the program and check to see if your house or apartment has a lead line with their service material map.
Currently, there are millions of federal dollars coming into states to replace lead service lines. This is the most significant investment in history to replace these lines, and we must take full advantage of this opportunity. Learn more about our efforts to ensure that the Minnesota Legislature fully and properly funds lead service line replacement.
If you want to take more action, consider joining our group of volunteers! We work together to protect clean water and create a better environment for all.
If you have specific questions about our lead work, or want to more directly advocate on lead as an issue, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.