Water systems at an observatory, a prison and a forest campground in Arizona are among those that have tested above the federal limit for lead in the past three years, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal data.
No amount of lead is considered safe, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says samples over 15 parts per billion trigger notification to customers and steps to control exposure to lead, which can damage children’s brains, cause behavioral problems and make adults sick.
The AP found that nearly 1,400 water systems serving 3.6 million Americans nationwide have violated the federal lead standard at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015. In Arizona, 14 out of more than 950 water systems fell into that category, according to the EPA.
Most of those are on the state Department of Environmental Quality’s watch list, and the agency says it is working with system operators to fix problems. Hundreds of other systems across Arizona have reported varying amounts of lead since the EPA’s rule on the contaminant went into effect in 1991.