SOU water fixtures show high levels of lead present

Southern Oregon University tested water on campus for lead. The results indicated that five fixtures tested positive for lead. The lead levels are above the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) safety standards. The fixtures that tested positive were located in Cox Hall, the student health and wellness center, and the music building. The Green springs complex and the Education/Psychology buildings also tested positive for lead. Southern Oregon University is hoping to have all lead-affected fixtures repaired by the beginning of Fall term in September.

According to SOU, the source of the lead is the fixtures and not the water supply so only the fixtures will need to be replaced and repaired. More testing will continue.

Several schools across Oregon tested positive for lead this summer. Finding a high amount of lead in water can be concerning and is something that should be taken seriously. Adults who are exposed to lead can suffer from: increase in blood pressure, decreased kidney function, and reproductive problems for both men and women. Children especially are vulnerable to lead. Low levels of lead exposure in a child’s system have been linked to, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of red blood cells. Pregnant women are also at risk for developing serious side effects from lead. Reduced growth of the fetus and premature birth can occur. Overall, lead is harmful to health and there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood.

Two things that can ensure safe drinking water: Get a report and have water tested. Ask your water utility company for a copy of the annual water quality report. You can’t see, taste or smell lead. Even if you don’t think you have lead in your drinking water, it’s important to get your water tested. A test is the only way to tell if there are harmful levels of lead in water.

Here are some tips to reduce lead in drinking water at home:

  1. Flush pipes before drinking. The longer water has been sitting in pipes, the more lead it may contain. Flush the pipes by turning on the water and letting it run until it gets cold.
  2. Use cold water for eating and drinking. Hot water is more likely to contain high levels of lead. Showering is safe, even if water is contaminated with lead because human skin does not absorb lead in water.
  3. Use water filters or treatment devices. Filters and treatments are effective at removing lead. Before you go out and buy a water filter, make sure it is certified to remove lead.

As someone who is health conscious, I strongly recommend testing your drinking water or at the very least, get a water filter. It’s important to be informed and aware.

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