Heard on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson

Birmingham, White Lake Township Find High Levels of Lead in Water

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

Former EPA worker and water safety expert Elin Betanzo weighs in on lead levels in two Oakland County cities’ drinking water.

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Oakland County’s Health Division recently announced that they are helping the City of Birmingham and White Lake Township with an issue that feels far too familiar here in Michigan, and increasingly in cities across the country: lead in the drinking water.

Testing of water in both communities indicated that there are some homes with lead levels that exceed so-called acceptable levels for municipal water systems. Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Elin Warn Betanzo, a former EPA worker and the founder of Safe Water Engineering about testing standards, revisions to the Michigan Lead and Copper Rule, and why we should be focused on fixing water infrastructure.

The elevated lead levels in Birmingham and White Lake were detected as part of testing required by the revised Michigan Lead and Copper Rule, which requires more stringent sampling. According to Betanzo, “When we do more accurate sampling for lead in the water, we end up finding it.”

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Betanzo says the news didn’t come as a big surprise to her. “We have known for quite some time that we need a huge investment in our water infrastructure, and the pipes that deliver the water to our home are part of that infrastructure,” she says. Adding that “it just means it’s time to get those lead pipes out. We should not be drinking water out of lead pipes.”

Water filters that are certified to remove lead from drinking water are an effective way to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water, especially if you have a lead service line. Look for a filter that meets NSF/ANSI standard 53 for lead reduction and NSF/ANSI standard 42 for particulate removal.

Click on the audio player above to hear Stephen’s entire conversation with water infrastructure expert Elin Warn Betanzo.


Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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