Report: 33 U.S. Cities Cheated in Water Tests Over Lead Concerns


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An eyebrow-raising report from The Guardian has revealed that dozens of cities across the eastern United States did not follow proper water test procedures for the amount of lead found in their water supply.

In an exclusive Guardian investigation, the British paper contacted 81 of the “most populous cities and towns east of the Mississippi River” and found that 33 used “tricks” to underestimate the amount of lead detected in water in households in defiance of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidance. These “tricks” in many ways were similar to the ones used in Flint, Michigan to conceal dangerous levels of lead in the city’s water supply.


From the report:

“[Of these 33,] 21 used the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in US history.”

While Flint was an “extreme” case, the Guardian wrote, the same “testing regimes” were used in major metropolitan areas like Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Milwaukee.

For Marc Edwards, the Virginia Tech scientist who first uncovered the Flint crisis, this lack of proper guidance is scary and potentially deadly.

“They make lead in water low when collecting samples for EPA compliance, even as it poisons kids who drink the water,” said Edwards. “Clearly, the cheating and lax enforcement are needlessly harming children all over the United States.

“If they cannot be trusted to protect little kids from lead in drinking water, what on Earth can they be trusted with? Who amongst us is safe?”

Read the full report here. A list of the 33 cities is below.

New England

  • Boston, MA
  • Worcester, MA
  • Springfield, MA
  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Portland, ME
  • Lewiston, ME
  • Bangor, ME
  • South Burlington, VT

  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Albany, NY
  • Croton-on-Hudson, NY

  • Chicago, IL
  • Detroit, MI
  • Columbus, OH
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Aurora, IL
  • Rockford, IL
  • Warren, MI
  • Galesburg, IL
  • Sebring, OH

  • Miami, FL
  • Tampa, FL
  • Greensboro, NC
  • St. Petersburg, FL
  • Augusta, GA
  • Jackson, MS
  • Charleston, SC
  • Mount Pleasant, SC
  • Bowling Green, KY
  • Southaven, MS


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