Gostin L. Lead in the Water: A Tale of Social and Environmental Injustice. JAMA Forum Archive. Published online April 13, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamahealthforum.2016.0016
In 1854, British physician John Snow famously wrote, “The most terrible outbreak of cholera which ever occurred in this kingdom, is probably that which took place in Broad Street, Golden Square, and the adjoining streets, a few weeks ago.” Snow linked cholera to polluted water flowing from the Broad Street pump. City officials removed the pump handle and the cholera epidemic suddenly ended. Cholera is one of many gastrointestinal illnesses caused by drinking water carrying disease-causing microbes. In 2000, for example, hundreds of Milwaukee residents became ill when they drank city water contaminated with cryptosporidium.
Pathogens are not the only health hazard lurking in drinking water. Tap water can also contain lead, which is devastating to children’s developing brains. A deteriorating water system infrastructure built in the 19th century is the culprit; drinking water service pipes were often lined with lead. As David Bellinger, PhD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, explains, the very word “plumbing” derives from the Latin for lead because lead-based water distribution systems date back to Roman times. Over the years, corrosive water running through lead-lined pipes has caused many of these old pipes across the country to leach lead into our drinking water.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.