Water not the source of Pa. lead poisoning, DEP says

Katherine Ranzenberger

York County children aren’t being exposed to lead through water, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

None of the more than 150 water systems reviewed by the DEP exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency standards for lead in the drinking water. According to the EPA, any drinking water with more than 15 parts per billion of lead in it is considered toxic.

“We can definitively say that none of these 159 water systems have exceeded EPA action levels for lead,” DEP Secretary John Quigley stated in a Monday news release. “This eliminates one of the possible sources for the exposure. DEP has regulations and programs in place to monitor lead levels in drinking water, and they are working.”

Elevated blood lead levels of the children in Flint, Michigan, has taken over the news cycle, causing concern for parents across the country.

The City of Flint switched from Detroit water to water from the Flint River in April 2014. The highly corrosive Flint River water was not treated properly, causing the old pipes in the city to corrode and leach lead into the system.

Public water systems must regularly sample water from homes in their service areas. The tests are in homes that are known to have lead pipes, lead solder or lead service lines, according to the DEP press release.

“If 90 percent of tested homes are below the 15 parts per billion action level, a water system is considered safe,” the DEP press release reads.

According to the 2015 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report from the York Water Co., 90 percent of all homes in York County tested below 2.5 parts per billion of lead in the water. Also, 100 percent of homes tested below 4.3 parts per billion of lead in the water.

York County water was last tested for lead in 2013. It is due for its next test this year.

Lake Redman at William H. Kain County Park is a primary water source for the York Water Co. and its customers. (Bill Kalina -

In York City, 34 of the 1,612 children tested had levels of lead in their blood at two times or more the federal standard, according to the state Department of Health. However, most of that exposure likely comes from paint and dust in aging homes.