Media Release: April 13, 2005
Portland, OR--The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late last week awarded a 2005 Children’s Environmental Health Recognition Award to the Portland Water Bureau’s Lead Hazard Reduction Program (LHRP). The Recognition Award acknowledges agencies or individuals that have demonstrated commitment to protect children from environmental health risks.
Even though there is no lead in Portland’s source waters, exposure to lead through drinking water is possible if materials in a building's plumbing contain lead. The level of lead in water can increase when water ‘stands’ in contact with lead-based solder and brass faucets containing lead. Since infants and children are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than the general population, the bureau’s lead hazard reduction outreach targets pregnant women and the parents of young children.
Portland’s Lead Hazard Reduction Program is a comprehensive approach to reducing lead exposure in the community. It includes treating Portland’s water to control corrosion through adjusting the pH of Portland’s drinking water. Since 1997, this corrosion control treatment has reduced lead at customers’ taps by over 50 percent compared to pre-treatment levels. The Lead Hazard Reduction Program includes monitoring water quality, offering free lead in water testing, and providing extensive education and outreach through community partners about lead hazards.
The Lead Hazard Reduction Program also funds the LeadLine, a Multnomah County Health Department phone line and web site that offers information on lead in water testing, free childhood blood lead testing, lead poisoning prevention workshops, and programs to reduce lead hazards in homes. In the Portland area, dust from paint in homes built before 1978 is the most common source of exposure to lead. The LeadLine provides information on lead-safe remodeling practices and common sources of lead in the community.
There are simple steps to avoid possible exposure to lead from household plumbing. Use only cold fresh water from the cold water tap for drinking or cooking. Never use hot water from the tap for making baby formula. Run cold water from the tap until it feels noticeably colder to flush out water that has been standing in pipes. For more information, call the LeadLine at 503-988-4000 or visit www.leadline.org.