Kishia Powell, the City of Jackson’s public-works director, says recent reports of lead contamination in several homes are not indicative of problems in the water system but with how water reacted to with the plumbing in individual homes.
Photo by Imani Khayyam.
Although the City of Jackson ensures its citizens that the drinking water has been deemed safe to drink, the City and the Mississippi Department of Health today are cautioning small children and pregnant women not to drink the water without taking certain steps to flush any lead present in the pipes.
Councilman De'Keither wants to "ring the bell" about lead in Jackson pipes.
“Although the majority of home lead testing performed identified no lead, or lead below the action level of 15 (parts per billion), we are issuing these recommendations as a special precaution for young children and pregnant women,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Dobbs said in a release. “It is important to remember simple measures, such as flushing the faucet for one to two minutes, can markedly reduce lead levels in tap water.”
MDH advises one to two minutes of running the faucet to flush out whatever lead may be settled into the water from the pipes in older homes. Cold water only should be used for drinking or cooking.
Children are especially susceptible to the adverse effects that result from a high level of lead, and as a result extra care should be taken to be sure any child five years old or younger does not drink unfiltered tap water. In addition, the MDH recommends that all children six years old and younger see their pediatrician or primary care provider for lead screening and blood testing.
Infants are also at high risk for adverse effects of lead in their system. Those still on formula should only be fed with “ready-to-feed” or formula prepared with filtered or bottled water. Expectant mothers should only drink filtered or bottled water.
“We believe these precautions should remain in place at least six months while the City of Jackson makes the necessary changes required to stabilize the alkalinity and pH levels in the system,” Director of Health Protection Jim Craig said in the release. “These changes should ensure better optimization of corrosion in the Jackson Water System, which should lead to minimal leaching of lead in home plumbing.”
The MDH will mail the complete list of advice to all customers serviced by the City of Jackson and “will closely monitor the City of Jackson’s progress to reduce the corrosiveness of water.”
This corrosiveness, the city claims, is the source of the problem, not the water system.
“The City of Jackson’s source water and finished drinking water leaving the plant do not contain lead,” a release from the city states, “Lead enters the water from the corrosion of materials containing lead.”
This means that in some houses, specifically those built before 1988, the pipes may be made out of lead or contain lead solder. “When water is in contact with service lines and plumbing containing lead for several hours, the lead may enter the drinking water,” the release states.
The City takes steps on its end to try and curtail the corrosion in the pipes that can strip the lead by using certain chemicals to treat the water. This does not mean that the treatment guarantees that the water will be free of trace lead amounts, just that it will cut down on the corrosion effect. At the source of the issue are the outdated piping materials.
The City has released a pamphlet online and distributed similar informational packets to child care centers, healthcare facilities and Head Start locations that are serviced by the city’s water system.
Read the State's full release here, including safety recommendations.