In the latest episode of Investigative Postcast, environmental reporter Dan Telvock talks to Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards about the risks posed by lead in drinking water, and why it’s a bigger problem than local governments want to acknowledge.
Keeping drinking water safe, Edwards said, is primarily about following existing laws: “Trying to make sure that the environmental policemen do their job.”
That’s made harder by the fact that there’s a “culture of complacency” towards lead in drinking water, Edwards said.
“They’re trying to defend the indefensible,” Edwards said, discussing Investigative Post’s recent story about how the Erie County Water Authority was testing the homes of many employees, instead of the most-at-risk homes, as required by federal law.
In addition, the water authority knowingly tested homes that had no risk of lead.
“This is a very dangerous path and I think they’re just trying to rationalize that they broke the law,” Edwards said.
A failure to test properly allowed the Flint, Michigan, water crisis to go undetected, he said, because authorities were sampling homes with no lead in them and mistakenly thinking the town’s water supply was safe. “The only way the law works is if you find the worst case homes,” he said.
Edwards will join Telvock via Skype for a panel discussion on lead poisoning, Wednesday November 16, 7 p.m. at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site in Buffalo. Dan will recap his award-winning reporting for Investigative Post on lead poisoning in Buffalo. Other participants will include Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, an affiliate faculty member at Virginia Tech and founder of the non-profit children’s environmental health organization Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives; and Elizabeth McDade, Program Coordinator of the Rochester Safe and Efficient Homes Initiative.
You can buy tickets here.