EPA’s “flawed” reporting methodology to blame for overstated lead pipe count, Florida alleges

(UI) – According to WUSF, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used unverified data to allocate funds to states for replacing lead pipes, leading to discrepancies in the distribution.

Florida was reported to have the highest number of lead pipes, estimated at 1.16 million, a figure that surprised experts like Tom Neltner of Unleaded Kids, who noted such pipes are typically found in older homes common in the Midwest and Northeast.

Some Florida utilities questioned the EPA's data, showing discrepancies between their submissions and the EPA's records. The EPA's Office of Inspector General reported that two states submitted inaccurate data, potentially leading to unequal fund distribution; Florida is suspected to be one of them.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) criticized the EPA's methodology and asserted that the EPA's estimates for Florida were overstated. They argued that their high compliance with lead regulations and low incidence of lead in water samples contradicted the EPA's figures. The DEP expects actual lead pipe numbers in Florida to be much lower once surveys are complete.

Historically, lead pipes were used due to their flexibility, but they pose health risks when corroded by water, leading to significant lead exposure. Removing lead pipes greatly reduces these risks, benefiting both children's cognitive development and adults' cardiovascular health. The EPA plans to release a detailed report on the inaccuracies in the fall.

This story was orignially reported by WUSF.org.

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