KGUN 9 On Your SideNews


No lead in local water, but watch out for paint

Posted at 5:43 PM, Feb 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-02 07:18:19-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The scandal over dangerous lead levels in Flint, Michigan's water has Pima County residents looking for assurance their water is safe.
Water in Flint has had high lead levels since the city switched to water from the Detroit River.  That water was corrosive enough to dissolve lead from old pipes.
People in Flint are afraid of their water and are depending on bottled water while Michigan state government tries to clean up the mess.
Health officials in our area say local water is safe, but your zip code could tell you if you're at risk of lead from other sources.
Pima County's Health Director says Flint's crisis increased the numbers of calls asking about Tucson's water.
"The truth is in Southern Arizona and Pima County in particular, most lead exposures are not going to come from ground water," said Francisco Garcia, Director of Pima County Health Department.
But Garcia says it's a good idea to beware of lead in other places, like old paint in houses built before lead paint was outlawed in 1978.
You can even break down the risk by your zip code.  Red zones on the map above show where risk of encountering lead may be higher, mainly from the age of the homes.
Dr. Garcia says there are other ways kids can take in lead.
"Painted surfaces from toys, from certain spices, from certain home remedies and to a lesser extent from certain occupations where there's a certain amount of lead exposure and when those parents bring that into the household that can also result in elevated lead levels in children," said Garcia.
You can buy inexpensive kits to test for lead on surfaces, and in water.
Ace Hardware on 22nd sold two surface test kits last month.
At Water Street Station they say Flint's troubles do not seem to have driven more people to drive in for purified water.
Lead is a special concern for young children where it can damage a developing brain.  If you're worried about the chance of lead exposure your doctor can order a blood test.