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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
INSTALLATION MANAGEMENT COMMAND (IMCOM)
LEAD SAMPLING IN ARMY FAMILY HOUSING UNITS
Q. Why is th...
Q. Is this sampling being done because of what has occurred in Flint, MI?
A. No. The Army’s installations are in complianc...
Q. Is this testing different than regular drinking water testing?
A. Yes. This IMCOM lead testing initiative is a proactiv...
that contains lead. Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures and
faucets (brass), and fittings. Lead can als...
Q. What type of water sampling is currently performed on a regular basis?
A. Community water systems regularly conduct bac...
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FAQ: Lead sampling in Army Family Housing Units

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FAQ: Lead sampling in Army Family Housing Units

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FAQ: Lead sampling in Army Family Housing Units

  1. 1. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS INSTALLATION MANAGEMENT COMMAND (IMCOM) LEAD SAMPLING IN ARMY FAMILY HOUSING UNITS Q. Why is the Army sampling the water for lead now? A. This sampling effort is a continuation of the effort begun in 2013 to ensure that the Army is being as protective as possible of the children in its care. The Army’s installations are in compliance with regulations for testing for lead in drinking water. However, the regular water sampling conducted at Army installations in accordance with Federal, State, and Local standards does not require 100% sampling of Army Family Housing (AFH) units. Because exposure to lead, even at low levels, may cause developmental issues in children ages 6 years old and under, the Army is proactively conducting this additional sampling in an abundance of caution. This sampling effort will give the Army more detailed information about the status of the drinking water in Army Family Housing, facilitate the correction of any issues that are discovered, and guide policy discussions regarding whether or not to develop additional testing standards. Q. What prompted the Army to do this testing? A. The Army began this effort in 2013 as a proactive response to information suggesting water faucets used for drinking and food preparation at facilities where children age six and under, who are a sensitive population, could receive a significant amount of drinking water be tested individually for lead. Although the Army’s installations are in compliance with regulations for testing for lead in drinking water, the routine water sampling conducted in accordance with Federal, State, and Local standards does not require additional site-specific testing at child development centers, youth centers and schools. Based on the suggested safeguard for this sensitive population, the Army surveyed its installations regarding their policies for testing the facilities. Although the majority of the installations do test drinking water at child development centers, youth centers and schools, the Army found that there was no standard sampling procedure in place for these facilities and that records were incomplete regarding sampling and response measures taken when lead in drinking water was above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended level. Recently, the Army made the decision to include AFH units in this ongoing sampling effort. 100% of Army Family Housing (AFH) units will be sampled for the presence of lead in drinking water over the next five years. The goal is to sample no less than 20% of AFH units each year.
  2. 2. Q. Is this sampling being done because of what has occurred in Flint, MI? A. No. The Army’s installations are in compliance with regulations for testing for lead and numerous other regulated contaminants in drinking water. Water sampling is conducted regularly at Army installations and reported to water system users in accordance with Federal, State, and Local standards. This sampling is a continuation of an effort begun by the Army in 2013. At that time the Army realized there were no specific drinking water requirements to sample CDCs, schools, and youth centers; places where children spend a lot of their time and may consume a significant amount of drinking water. The lack of requirements in current drinking water regulations for routine sampling of lead in water at these locations calls for the development and implementation of a routine sampling program for testing drinking water outlets (sinks and fountains) primarily used for consumption in facilities used by children age six and under. The Army intends to continue sampling these facilities on a routine basis, and recently included AFH units in this sampling effort. Q. What is the difference between testing a public water supply and testing at specific water outlets in AFH units? A. Lead testing for public water systems under the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule is aimed at identifying system-wide corrosion problems that could cause elevated levels of lead in drinking water. For these tests samples are collected at many locations known or likely to have leaded plumbing components such as older lead- soldered copper plumbing (high-risk residences), throughout the public water system. Results are analyzed for individual samples and if more than 10 percent of all the samples exceed 15 ppb, system-wide corrosion control treatment may be necessary. For sampling of AFH units, the Army follows the EPA recommendation to collect samples from any sinks used for food preparation or identified as a primary source of drinking water. EPA recommends that any sink be taken out of service if the lead level exceeds 20 ppb. However, based on recent research that identified drinking water as an increasing contributor of lead exposure and more strongly links elevated water lead levels to increased blood lead levels, the Army is using a more stringent 15 ppb lead level to determine if any water fountain or sink used for drinking or food preparation will be taken out of service. Both the 15 ppb action level for public water supply testing and the EPA recommended level of 20 ppb (and the more stringent 15 ppb the Army is using) for testing at child development centers, schools and AFH units are triggers for treatment and/or corrective action to reduce lead levels in drinking water and to prevent lead levels from elevating further.
  3. 3. Q. Is this testing different than regular drinking water testing? A. Yes. This IMCOM lead testing initiative is a proactive Army effort and not required or regulated by the EPA. The Army asked its experts at the U.S. Army Environmental Command and the Army Public Health Center (Provisional) to develop the sampling protocols. The sampling protocols are based on EPA recommendations and are meant to target sinks and fountains where children get a large amount of their drinking water. This will ensure that the samples accurately reflect the quality of the water these children may actually consume. Routine drinking water testing is typically conducted at many locations throughout the water distribution system. Lead and Copper Rule testing samples high-risk residences, but those do not usually include child development centers, youth centers and schools and also do not include 100% of AFH units. Routine drinking water testing and Lead and Copper Rule testing is required, as are the use of their associated sampling protocols. Q. If lead is found in the drinking water does that mean that the children in that AFH unit are at risk? A. Not necessarily, although the Army will take corrective action if lead levels exceed 15ppb in any of the samples taken. It is important to note that the EPA sets action levels and recommended maximum levels for contaminants in drinking water with a goal of identifying and correcting issues before negative health effects are experienced. Exposure to lead above action levels can pose a potential health risk, but whether or not an individual experiences any negative health effects depends on many factors. If parents or guardians have any questions or concerns about whether their children are experiencing negative health effects as a result of possible lead exposure, they are encouraged to contact their child’s primary care provider. Generally, clinics and pediatric providers follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations for lead screening and testing in children and infants. Providers also have the benefit of considering information about the child’s medical history, current health, and potential for exposure to other sources of lead when making medical decisions and recommendations. Q. How does lead get into drinking water? A. Measures taken during the last two decades have greatly reduced exposures to lead in tap water. These measures include actions taken under the requirements of the 1986, 1996, and 2011 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Lead and Copper Rule, and the Department of Defense (DoD) Final Governing Standards (FGS), as applicable. Even so, lead can enter the water through contact with the plumbing that carries it, a process called leaching. Lead leaches into water through corrosion – a dissolving or wearing-away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and plumbing
  4. 4. that contains lead. Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures and faucets (brass), and fittings. Lead can also be found in water in particulate (solid) form that could become dislodged from pipes and be ingested. The amount of lead in water also depends on factors such as the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the amount of wear in the pipes, the water’s acidity and its temperature. Q. How do I know if tap water is contaminated with lead? A. The only way to know whether tap water contains lead is to have it tested. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. Q. How do I learn more about the safety of drinking water? A. The EPA and Army Regulation (AR) 200-1 require all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called an annual water quality report) for their customers by July 1 of each year. The CCR summarizes information regarding the sources of water used (i.e., rivers, lakes, reservoirs, or aquifers), any detected contaminants, compliance and educational information. Some water suppliers post their CCRs on the EPA’s web site. If your water supplier does not, you may request a copy by contacting them directly. Recommend each installation provide a link to their water system’s most recent CCR here, as applicable. Q. What are the potential negative health effects of lead exposure? A. High levels of lead in tap water can cause negative health effects if the lead in the water enters the bloodstream and causes an elevated blood lead level. Risk will vary, however, depending upon the individual, the circumstances, and the amount of water consumed. For example, infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size. Infants and children may be at a higher risk of experiencing delays in their physical or mental development. Children may show deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults who drink this water over many years may develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. (This is not a comprehensive list of the potential health effects of lead exposure, but includes the most common effects.)
  5. 5. Q. What type of water sampling is currently performed on a regular basis? A. Community water systems regularly conduct bacterial and chemical sampling, including lead, to ensure they are in compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act standards. Results showing exceedances during these samplings are included in the consumer confidence report (CCR) each community water system is required to publish annually. Your water system is also sampled at multiple locations throughout the distribution system to ensure that there is enough chlorine or disinfectant to sanitize the water and to test for the presence of bacteria such as E.coli. Q. If water sampling indicates an elevated level of lead in the water, what will be done? A. If lead is detected above 15 ppb in the drinking water from any sink or faucet sampled in an AFH unit, occupants will either be provided with an alternate water source for drinking and food preparation, or will have carbon filters installed at the affected water outlet. Follow-up sampling will be conducted to identify the source of the lead, appropriate corrective actions will be taken, and additional samples will be collected to ensure that the corrective actions were successful. Similarly, if a water system exceeds the 15 ppb action level under the Lead and Copper Rule, the system must take corrective actions to reduce lead levels system- wide. This usually involves installing or improving corrosion control treatment. It takes about 2-3 weeks to receive validated results after the samples are collected. Those results will be communicated in a timely manner to the staff and users of each facility, whether or not there are any elevated lead levels. If you have any questions about this water sampling effort, please contact {INSERT garrison POC(s) (e.g., PAO, DPW/Environmental)} at (phone number) or (e-mail). Please visit the following sites for additional information: Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water (EPA): https://safewater.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/sections/202366328 http://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family#water http://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/drinking-water-schools-and-child-care-facilities Lead Home, Prevention Tips, Source of Lead, Water (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention): http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/tips/water.htm

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