EPA study finds water filters effective at removing lead in Benton Harbor homes
An Environmental Protection Agency study has found that certified filters are “very effective” at removing lead from Benton Harbor’s drinking water.
The EPA collected samples from about 200 Benton Harbor homes late last year. The agency says samples were collected from all brands of filters currently provided by the Berrien County Health Department.
The study found that all samples filtered through faucet or pitcher filters had lead levels below 5 parts per billion. Though there's no safe level of lead in drinking water, 5 PPB is the standard for filters.
The study found that most samples showed no reportable levels of lead at all.
But that’s only if the filters were used properly. According to agency guidelines, hot water can’t be used in either faucet or pitcher filters. Filter screens also need to be cleaned and checked for debris every week, and flushed for five seconds before drinking or cooking.
The study found that residents need better information to install and operate filters properly.
Scientists also collected samples for sequential and particle studies. The particle study found that when lead was detected in Benton Harbor water, it tended to clump together in larger particles — meaning it’s generally easier for a filter to catch.
Full results from the sequential study have yet to be released, but it will help determine the primary location of lead contamination in the home — whether it’s brass fixtures, solder, galvanized water lines or lead service lines.
The study will also help determine the effectiveness of corrosion control, a process used at the drinking water plant to keep lead from leaching into the water.
Michigan officials are still recommending that Benton Harbor residents use bottled water for drinking, cooking, rinsing food, brushing teeth and mixing infant formula.
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