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Getting the Lead Out

CLEANUP New EPA guidelines will require utility companies to replace dangerous lead pipes. CARLOS OSORIO—AP

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to update its rules about lead in drinking water. The lead is from old water pipes. Utility companies will have to replace them.

The current rules are decades old. They have failed to prevent water crises in many places. These include communities in Washington, D.C., and Flint, Michigan. Experts say there is lead in some people’s blood. Some 500,000 children in the United States are affected. Even small amounts can affect intelligence and coordination. The ability to focus and learn can also be affected.

The U.S. has an estimated 9.2 million lead pipes. They connect water mains to homes and businesses. The government is investing billions of dollars to replace them.

That means children will have less exposure to lead, Aaron Bernstein says. He’s head of environmental health programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “And that will be really wonderful.”

Stop and Think! Why are governmental rules necessary to protect public health? Which details in the article tell you why these rules are important?