When news broke in 2016 that the amount of lead found the city of Flint, Michigan’s water had risen to toxic levels, it was cause for concern across the county. The situation in Flint was so bad that in one home, water was 867 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 15 ppb limit.
As Flint scrambled to find ways to solve the problem while securing ways to get safe water, cities in the U.S. looked into their own lead levels. The dire situation in Flint also shed light on how important clean drinking water is, and how serious the consequences can be if they aren’t.
How safe is Cincinnati’s drinking water?
The short answer is: very safe.
Flint’s problem, specifically, was lead contamination in the drinking water. The culprit was corrosion in aging lead pipes that was not filtered properly by the city before the water went through city pipes and into homes.
The good news here in Cincinnati is that Greater Cincinnati Waterworks (GCWW) has had an established corrosion control process long before the issue in Flint arose. In fact, GCWW has always met or exceeded EPA health standards for drinking water.
Additionally, GCWW’s state-of-the-art water treatment process also includes “sand filtration, Granular Activated Carbon (GAC), Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) and ultraviolet (UV) light to remove and treat for natural and man-made contaminants from our drinking water,” according to its website.
In fact, the California, Ohio treatment plant was one of the first in the country to use all four treatment methods.
The GCWW’s extensive water treatment means it’s highly unlikely for something like what happened in Flint to happen here. However, it does not mean that we’re entirely in the clear. That’s because no level of lead in water is healthy.
In an historic city like Cincinnati, extra attention to lead levels in water need to be given in old homes and especially in schools, because children run the highest risk of anyone of lead poisoning. Fifty percent of lead they ingest gets absorbed by their bones (in adults about ten percent gets absorbed).
Lead poisoning: Know the signs
If you’re worried you or your loved one has been exposed to toxic levels of lead, here are the symptoms to watch for, according to mayoclinic.com:
- Developmental delay (in children)
- Learning difficulties (in children)
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness and fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
- Pica: eating things that aren’t food (in children)
Testing your home’s water
Currently there are no lead issues in the city, but if you’re worried about the quality of your drinking water, we recommend getting it tested. GCWW offers a free water testing kit to detect lead in your water. You can also purchase water testing kits on Amazon.com, and at your local hardware store.
Most kits range in price from $10-$20. That’s a small price to pay for your family’s health, and for your peace of mind.
We also recommend investing in a water filter system for your home. Whole house water systems are ideal, but if they aren’t in your budget, consider adding filters to your faucets, especially in your kitchen. These can not only help filter lead from the water, but other chemicals and pollutants, too.