EBMUD Keeping an Eye on Lead

Alameda County report emphasizes lead poisoning in Oakland due to lead-based paint and contaminated soil

As the East Bay's provider of drinking water and wastewater services and a backbone of the East Bay’s public health, EBMUD continues to support the efforts of Alameda County's Healthy Homes Department in keeping attention focused on children’s lead exposure in Oakland. Since events in Flint, Michigan placed a spotlight on lead, many people forget that the most common sources of lead in Bay Area homes are lead-based paint and contaminated soil, not drinking water.

Today Alameda County released the report “Housing Habitability and Health: Oakland’s Hidden Crisis” underscoring the connection between health problems and dilapidated housing. County health officials emphasized:

  • Lead-based paint remains one of the greatest sources of exposure for children;
  • Oakland has some of the highest blood lead levels in Alameda County and California;
  • ZERO lead poisoning cases in Oakland have been associated with water consumption;
  • Concerned parents – including those without health insurance – are encouraged to get their children’s blood lead levels tested. Call the Public Health Department Family Health Line at 1-888-604-4636.

As the water provider for 1.4 million people in the East Bay, EBMUD is keenly aware of concerns about lead exposure. EBMUD’s water quality program ensures that water meets or surpasses all federal and state drinking water requirements, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Lead and Copper Rule.

EBMUD’s water quality efforts minimize exposure to lead in drinking water:

  • EBMUD has had an active corrosion control program in place since the 1930s to prevent corrosion of lead in water pipes. We removed all known lead service lines from our service area in the 1990s and continue to remove lead materials whenever they are found.
  • As part of our regular testing, samples from customer taps were collected in 2017 in accordance with the Lead and Copper Rule; lead concentration in 90% samples was well below the regulatory Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).
  • 600 customers requested to participate in EBMUD’s free sampling voucher program in 2017; 90% of these samples were less than 1 ppb and none were above 15 ppb.
  • Sampling for lead in drinking water in schools within EBMUD’s service area was initiated in 2017 and continues in 2018. More than 70 percent of public schools and 11 percent of private schools were sampled in 2017. Results from the 2017 school sampling revealed only 12 percent of the samples exceeded 1 ppb and only 3 out of 1,251 samples exceeded 15 ppb.

Information and resources on lead poisoning are available from Alameda County at http://www.acphd.org/lead-poison-prevention.aspx. For questions or concerns about water quality, call EBMUD at 1-866-403-2683 or visit www.ebmud.com/water-quality to view EBMUD’s just-released 2017 Annual Water Quality Report.