LEAD IN WASHINGTON….The federal limit for lead contamination in drinking water is 15 parts per billion, a standard that recent research indicates is almost certainly far too lenient. In Washington DC recently a test at one house showed a reading of 24,000 ppb and another house had a reading of 48,000 ppb.

The city did nothing more than send out a routine form letter with test results. If any small children had lived in those houses, they would likely have IQs of about 70 by now.

Pardon me for harping on lead, but this kind of stuff is just outrageous. There is simply no excuse for lead contamination even half as high as 15 ppb anywhere in a country as rich as the United States, and there sure as hell is no excuse for not reacting to test levels of 48,000 ppb with anything less than the urgency you’d use for a fire alarm.

There are lots of problems in our country that seem nearly intractable these days, but lead isn’t one of them. The effects of lead in small in children are widespread and ruinous, and unlike so many other problems it really could be eliminated by simply throwing money at it. It would probably cost about $5 billion a year for a decade or so.

It is simply unconscionable that we don’t spend it.

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