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Issue of Lead Contamination in Water

Info: 1970 words (8 pages) Nursing Literature Review
Published: 3rd Dec 2020

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1a)  The contaminant identified in this article is lead. Health Canada’s guidelines indicate a maximum safe concentration of five parts per billion for lead in drinking water. Lead can cause cancer and become toxic in large concentrations in the bloodstream. According to the article, studies have shown that induced toxicity of lead in the blood can result in a reduction of IQ of in children and can cause harmful cognitive and behavioral effects, leading to increased blood pressure and renal dysfunction in adults (Rieger 2019). In this article, a family in Calgary received a letter from the city stating that the family may have been drinking and bathing in lead-contaminated water at their home for the past year. Hundreds of other residents face this same issue, as about 550 homes in Calgary have lead pipes on the public side of the properties. It is unknown how many homes have lead pipes on private property. This is a complicated issue because the city will only replace the public portion of the lead pipes if both the homeowner’s side of the property and the side on public property have lead pipes and the homeowners agrees to pay for the cost to replace their side as well, which averages $10,000 to $20,000 (Rieger 2019).

1b) When Water Treatment Causes Lead Contamination.

In this article, the author describes the discovery of lead found in drinking fountains within U.S. schools. The lead contamination emerged as a result of water treatment changes originally intended to improve water quality in the schools. The author states that exposure to lead in drinking water can result in delayed physical or neurological development in infants and children, and may also cause high blood pressure, kidney problems, and cancer in adults (Renner 2009). It is also suggested that negative health effects can result at blood levels below the 10 ug level of concern that is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The author explains that lead is usually introduced into tap water as the water passes through lead service lines or sits next to fixtures that contain lead. However, she also explains that lead contamination in tap water can also result from treatment changes that change the water chemistry (Renner 2009). The article also highlights methods, equipment, and recommendations to reduce tap water lead levels in homes. Cleaning home faucet aerators once every 2 weeks, allowing tap water to run until it becomes cold, and only using cold tap water for cooking, drinking, and preparing baby formula is recommended for reducing lead levels in tap water. Pitcher filters and water distilling systems are also recommended to reduce dissolved lead and other metals from tap water.

Lead Contamination in Flint — An Abject Failure to Protect Public Health.

This article examines the effect of lead contamination in Flint, Michigan. As a cost-saving measure, the city of Flint began taking its water from the Flint River instead of from Lake Huron, and discontinued the corrosion-control treatments. The author reports that children in Flint had blood lead concentrations above the reference value of 5 ug/dl rose from 2.4% to 4.9% between 2013 and 2015 (Bellinger 2016). Children are vulnerable to lead due to their greater absorption of ingested lead on a body-weight basis and because development of the central nervous system is easily affected in ways that result in cognitive and behavioral abnormalities (Bellinger 2016). Disadvantaged children from families below the poverty line are exposed to more lead because they are more likely to live in houses that still contain lead paint, live in urban areas with greater soil and dust concentrations from traffic and industrial activities, and have nutritional deficiencies that increase lead absorption (Bellinger 2016).

Widespread copper and lead contamination of household drinking water

This article examines cooper, lead, arsenic and manganese drinking water contamination in homes in New South Wales, Australia. Analysis of 212 drinking water samples showed that 56% of these samples contained detectable concentrations of lead (Harvey et al. 2016). An analysis of household plumbing fittings showed that they are a significant source of drinking water lead contamination. Kitchen tap fittings were also found to be a primary source of drinking water lead contamination (Harvey et al. 2016). This article suggests that given that lead is known to cause adverse health effects, products for use in drinking water should be manufactured free of lead. The article also acknowledges that education and public awareness can be used to mitigate preventable exposures of lead, by suggesting that homeowners should be made aware of the risk present in the products they purchase that are in contact with their drinking water (Harvey et al. 2016).

Some effects of lead contamination on liver and gallbladder bile.

This article explores the effect of lead on the liver and gallbladder by examining human gallbladder bile, as well as examining the liver and bile of chickens contaminated with lead. Lead poisoning results from occupational exposure such as crystal ware and pottery. Lead is known to cause colicky abdominal pain, weight loss and elevation in liver function tests. Lead was detected in 9 bile samples out of the 40 patients with gallstones (Sipos 2003). Average lead concentration of 0.2 mg/kg and average human gallbladder lead content was 20.55 – 48.69 mg/kg. The results of this study show that higher concentrations of lead causes severe periportal inflammation in chicken liver, suggesting that long-term lead exposure can cause liver damage in humans as well (Sipos 2003). This article also suggests that low concentration of lead may also disturb the normal biochemical process in the hepatobiliary system and the lead may precipitate into gallstones (Sipos 2003).

Lead Contamination and Its Human Health Effects in India, Vietnam and Cambodia.

This article examines the effects of lead contamination on human health in India, Vietnam and Cambodia. Lead concentrations were determined in human blood acquired from cities, dumping cites and reference sites in South India, North Vietnam and Cambodia. Concentrations of lead in these human blood samples ranged from 2.33 ug/dl to 27.4 ug/dl (Agusa et al. 2006). In some residents, the concentrations of lead in blood exceeded the threshold levels that can induce hypertension in adults (10 ug/dl) and inhibit development of intelligence in fetus (20-30 ug/dl) (Agusa et al. 2006).Aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD) activities were also measured to evaluate the human health effect of lead exposure. Significant negative correlations between blood lead levels and ALAD activities were found in the residents tested, indicating that heme biosynthesis was suppressed by lead in these individuals (Agusa et al. 2006).

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1b) In large concentration in a human’s bloodstream, lead can become a toxic substance that causes adverse human health effects. In adults, high concentrations of lead can induce high blood pressure and renal dysfunction (Rieger 2019). Chronic exposure to high concentrations of lead is known to cause colicky abdominal pain, weight loss, liver damage, neuropsychiatric effects and reproductive effects (Renner 2009). Children are more vulnerable to lead because lead negatively effects the development of their central nervous system, which can result in disruptions in a child’s physical and neurological development (Bellinger 2016). Infants and children also ingest greater amounts of lead relative to their body mass and weight, as they are much smaller and lighter than adults.

1c) In order to remediate lead exposure in Calgary, the city will have to limit exposure of its citizens to the compound and remove the source of the compounds from its resident’s drinking water. To do this, public awareness and education about the dangers of lead exposure can be used to motivate homeowners to verify if the homeowners portion of the pipes are made of lead and to agree to pay the cost of replacing the pipe. If the public portion and homeowner’s portion of the pipes are lead, the city will replace the source of lead exposure in the city’s drinking water. Additional measures can also be applied in order to further reduce chemical toxicity in tap drinking water such as installing pitcher filters and water distilling systems and cleaning home faucet aerators every 2 weeks.

1d) For this situation of lead exposure in the city of Calgary, the control volume would an area that encompasses the 550 homes that have lead pipes on their public side and the soil that surrounds these pipes. Although the lead exposure in drinking water occurs through the lead pipes, concentrations of lead in the surrounding soil will need to be monitored. Lead occurs naturally in soil, but high levels of lead may exist in the soil around lead pipes due to absorption from the soil (Lee et al. 1998). Due to this, the surrounding atmosphere will also be measured for higher concentrations of lead due to the transport of lead-contaminated soil through wind transporting the soil. Surrounding water bodies will also be monitored for higher concentrations of lead due to rainfall runoff that may contain the lead-contaminated soil. These areas will be monitored for concentrations of lead that are higher than acceptable concentrations. Individuals living within the encompassed area will be monitored for higher concentrations of lead in the bloodstream. Acceptable levels of lead within drinking water, the atmosphere, soil, and the bloodstream are: 10 ug/l, 0.15 ug/m^3, 1200 ppm, and 5 ug/dL respectively (Environmental Health and Medicine Education 2019). When lead concentrations drop below these levels in their respective areas, monitoring will no longer be required.

References

  • Lee, S.-Z., Chang, L., Yang, H.-H., Chen, C.-M., and Liu, M.-C. 1998. Adsorption characteristics of lead onto soils. Journal of Hazardous Materials 63(1): 37–49. doi:10.1016/s0304-3894(98)00203-9.
  • Environmental Health and Medicine Education. 2019, July 2. Lead Toxicity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available from https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/csem/csem.asp?csem=34&po=8 [accessed 18 October 2019].
  • Agusa, T., Kunito, T., Ramu, K., Chamnan, C., Trang, P., Minh, T., Subramanian, A., Iwata, H., Viet, P., Tana, T., and Tanabe, S. 2006. Lead Contamination and Its Human Health Effects in India, Vietnam and Cambodia. Biomedical Research on Trace Elements 17(4): 413–416. doi:10.11299/brte.17.413
  • Sipos, P. 2003. Some effects of lead contamination on liver and gallbladder bile. Acta Biologica Szegediensis 47(1): 139–142. doi:10.1080/10807039.2011.605662.
  • Renner, R. 2009. Out of Plumb: When Water Treatment Causes Lead Contamination. Environmental Health Perspectives 117(12). doi:10.1289/ehp.117-a542.
  • Harvey, P., Handley, H., and Taylor, M. 2016. Widespread copper and lead contamination of household drinking water, New South Wales, Australia. Environmental Research 151: 275–285. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2016.07.041.
  • Bellinger, D.C. 2016. Lead Contamination in Flint — An Abject Failure to Protect Public Health. New England Journal of Medicine 374(12): 1101–1103. doi:10.1056/nejmp1601013.

 

 

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