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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: May 11, 2018
CONTACT: Paul Susca (603) 271-7061, Paul.Susca@des.nh.gov

Celebrate National Drinking Water Week, May 7-11

Raising Awareness of Childhood Lead Poisoning, Prevention and the Importance of Testing Drinking Water for Possible Elevated Lead Levels

[Editor's Note] -To recognize National Drinking Water Week, May 7 to 11, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services will be issuing a series of press releases highlighting the importance and value of drinking water to each of us in our everyday lives.

Concord, NH – The NH Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS), Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (HHLPPP) and the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau are raising awareness of childhood lead poisoning, prevention and the importance of testing drinking water for possible elevated lead levels.

"Childhood lead exposure is a significant issue in New Hampshire because of the large number of older homes. The risks in the State, as well as water crises in other localities, show how important it is to understand all of the potential lead sources that can be in the home," said Dr. Benjamin Chan, State Epidemiologist, DPHS. "There is no safe blood lead level, and childhood exposure may not show immediate outward symptoms but can affect long-term development and learning."

"While New Hampshire's public drinking water suppliers have been very proactive in getting lead out of their systems, privately owned service lines or interior plumbing are also a significant source of elevated lead in drinking water," said Sarah Pillsbury, NHDES Drinking Water & Groundwater Bureau Administrator. "Whether drinking water comes from a public water system or a private well, we urge all homeowners to test their tap water, especially in older homes. Testing water at fixtures that kids drink from is also important for schools and day cares. The cost of analyzing a lead sample, about $15, is well worth the knowledge that kids are not being exposed to lead from drinking water."

In 2016, 741 New Hampshire children under the age of 6 had elevated blood lead levels greater than 5 micrograms per deciliter, the reference value set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children with lead exposure cannot avoid the negative impact on their health and development and the effects can be permanent and continue into adulthood. Children are more at risk for lead poisoning because their smaller bodies and brains are in a continuous state of growth and development. Children's bodies and brains absorb lead more easily and at a faster rate than adults, which causes more physical and cognitive impairment from lead exposure than adults.

In February 2018, Senate Bill 247 was signed into law ensuring that any time a child tests positive for lead that exceeds the standards established in the Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention and Control statute, DHHS will test the water in the unit for lead. Through a partnership with NHDES, DHHS is taking important steps to ensure that a drinking water test is collected in the home of every child under the age of 6 with an elevated blood lead level greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter. The NHDES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau is providing funding for this testing in addition to being readliy available for data interpretation and referrals to families who have questions about their water tests. Together, the HHLPPP and NHDES have created an educational factsheet, Lead in Drinking Water that has been translated into English, Spanish, Arabic, Nepali and Swahili.

For more information about lead poisoning prevention, visit the DPHS website at www.dhhs.state.nh.us/dphs/bchs/clpp/ or the NHDES website at www.des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/.




NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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