Illinois Among States with Highest Number of Lead Pipes, EPA Survey Finds

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CHICAGO, IL – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report that found more than 9 million lead service lines are used to carry drinking water to homes throughout the United States, putting millions of people at risk of consuming toxic material. Illinois is among the states with the highest number of lead pipes, ranking second with a little over 1 million pipes.

Lead pipes pose a health hazard to those who rely on them for water and are known to be “typically the most significant source of lead in the water,” according to the EPA. Exposure to lead can cause nervous system damage, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, cardiovascular, kidney, and reproductive problems in adults, and it can be particularly harmful to children, babies, and fetuses.

To address this issue, the Biden administration has announced funding for states to improve their respective situations. Illinois will receive $332 million to replace all of its lead water pipes within the decade. Additionally, the EPA proposed national standards for some per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS), which have been linked to serious health issues, including cancer.

“EPA’s proposal to establish a national standard for PFAS in drinking water is informed by the best available science, and would help provide states with the guidance they need to make decisions that best protect their communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “This action has the potential to prevent tens of thousands of PFAS-related illnesses and marks a major step toward safeguarding all our communities from these dangerous contaminants.”

The Biden administration’s $15 billion infrastructure law for lead pipe work will significantly help, but it won’t be enough to solve the problem, according to the EPA. Every community deserves access to safe, clean drinking water, and the nation will need $625 billion to revamp drinking water infrastructure, a 32% increase from the estimate determined in their last assessment four years prior, the agency said.

The EPA’s report found in Florida leading all states with lead pipe replacement with 1.16 million lead pipes. Meanwhile neighboring Indiana is estimated to have 250,000 lead-lined water pipes, ranking 14th most in the United States.

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