A considerable number of localities and populations in the United States are affected by lead contamination through drinking water. Lead is a hazardous element that can cause behavioral and developmental issues, especially in children and pregnant women, and it also has a role in a number of health issues (Dignam et al., 2019). This policy brief will concentrate on the effects of lead exposure in drinking water on the delivery of healthcare and possible revisions to current regulations to lessen the risk of exposure. Public Health Issue: Lead Exposure in Drinking Water
Description of the Public Health Issue
Different populations, particularly children, expectant mothers, and low-income families, are especially impacted by lead exposure in drinking water. According to Roy and Edwards (2019), the poisonous substance can worsen behavioral and developmental issues in children, especially, and raise the danger of health issues in expectant mothers.
Lead exposure in drinking water occurs at the local, state, and national levels. In many communities, old plumbing and service lines is the main source of lead in drinking water (Sarkar et al., 2022). Lead exposure in drinking water is a particularly critical issue in low-income communities, where older housing and limited access to safe drinking water can result in higher levels of exposure. Public Health Issue: Lead Exposure in Drinking Water
The negative effects of lead exposure in drinking water on public health have been verified by several researchers. According to research in the Journal of Environmental Health, drinking water lead exposure increases the risk of children’s developmental issues and pregnancy-related health issues (Latham & Jennings, 2022). Another study that was published in the American Journal of Public Health indicated that lead exposure to drinking water was more common in low-income regions and that this exposure was linked to more health issues (Dignam et al., 2019).
Addressing the Public Health Issue through Current Policies
The existing policies addressing lead exposure in drinking water seek to lessen the quantity of lead in plumbing and service lines as well as the water that passes through these systems. Enforcing these rules is the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Roy & Edwards, 2019). In spite of these efforts, there are still issues that need to be resolved if lead exposure in drinking water is to be effectively reduced. Limited funding for lead reduction programs is a significant issue. Due to the limited funding available to the EPA and HHS for enforcing laws and educating the public about lead exposure, some communities may be at risk of lead contamination of their drinking water (Latham & Jennings, 2022). Additionally, there are frequently insufficient resources available for testing and monitoring lead levels in drinking water, which can make it challenging to pinpoint high-risk areas and take appropriate action.
The complexity of the plumbing systems that transport drinking water to households and businesses presents another difficulty. It can be challenging to locate lead and establish how to efficiently reduce it because lead can be found in pipes, fittings, and other parts of these systems (Latham & Jennings, 2022). To completely decrease the risk of exposure, it is frequently required to replace lead pipes and other components, although doing so can be expensive and time-consuming and is not always practical. Despite these obstacles, the rules in place to address lead contamination of drinking water are an essential first step in lowering the hazards connected to lead exposure. These policies work to lower the quantity of lead in drinking water and make sure that everyone has access to safe and clean water by enforcing regulations and educating the public about the risks of lead exposure (Sarkar et al., 2022). To properly address this public health issue and safeguard communities from the negative impacts of lead exposure, further work must be done.
Proposed Changes to Existing Policies
Changes to the current policies are required to lessen the chance of lead exposure from drinking water. Increased financing for initiatives to lower lead exposure in drinking water as well as tighter rules on lead in plumbing and service lines could be some of these developments (Latham & Jennings, 2022). Policies should also be created to guarantee that everyone has access to clean drinking water, especially low-income communities.
Necessary Stakeholders and their Importance
Government administrators, community leaders, and advocacy organizations are among the necessary stakeholders to start a policy change. Budgeting and supporting initiatives aimed at minimizing lead exposure in drinking water are crucially dependent on government officials and administrators (Sarkar et al., 2022). Community leaders and advocacy organizations can contribute to bringing attention to the problem and developing support for a change in policy.
Impact on the Health Care Delivery System
The healthcare delivery system is significantly impacted by lead exposure in drinking water. The poisonous substance increases the likelihood of health issues in pregnant women and can affect children’s development and behavior (Latham & Jennings, 2022). More financing for initiatives to lower lead exposure in drinking water as well as tighter controls on lead in plumbing and service lines are thus needed in order to solve these issues.
In the United States, lead exposure in drinking water poses a serious threat to the health of many different populations, particularly children and expectant women. Changes to the current policies are required to lower the risk of exposure, including increased financing for initiatives to do so and tighter rules on lead in plumbing and service lines. Community leaders, advocacy organizations, and government employees all play important parts in this process. The effects of lead exposure on the delivery of healthcare are profound, and all interested parties must work together to resolve this issue.
Dave, D. M., & Yang, M. (2022). Lead in drinking water and birth outcomes: A tale of two water treatment plants. Journal of Health Economics, 84, 102644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhealeco.2022.102644
Dignam, T., Kaufmann, R. B., LeStourgeon, L., & Brown, M. J. (2019). Control of lead sources in the United States, 1970-2017: public health progress and current challenges to eliminating lead exposure. Journal of public health management and practice: JPHMP, 25(Suppl 1 LEAD POISONING PREVENTION), S13. https://doi.org/10.1097%2FPHH.0000000000000889
Latham, S., & Jennings, J. L. (2022). Reducing lead exposure in school water: Evidence from remediation efforts in New York City public schools. Environmental Research, 203, 111735. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2021.111735
Roy, S., & Edwards, M. A. (2019). Preventing another lead (Pb) in drinking water crisis: Lessons from the Washington DC and Flint MI contamination events. Current Opinion in Environmental Science & Health, 7, 34-44. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coesh.2018.10.002
Sarkar, B., Mitchell, E., Frisbie, S., Grigg, L., Adhikari, S., & Maskey Byanju, R. (2022). Drinking water quality and public health in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal: coliform bacteria, chemical contaminants, and health status of consumers. Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1155/2022/3895859