New water filter law: U-M experts available to comment
A new set of laws dubbed “Filter First,” signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, requires filters that remove lead at water access points used for drinking or cooking at Michigan schools and child care facilities.
University of Michigan experts are available to comment.
Nancy Love is the JoAnn Silverstein Distinguished University Professor of Environmental Engineering, whose research focuses on water infrastructure and public health.
“Michigan school buildings are older than the national average,” she said. “They are more likely to have legacy lead inside the walls and in ‘lead free’ plumbing that has not been addressed. We’ve seen this in our work with a Michigan school district.
“It’s important to understand that even if a school or daycare facility does not have a lead service line, they can still have substantive lead due to materials internal to the building.
“We can’t monitor our way out of this. Lead is intermittent and persistent. We know this from our own service based research in Michigan’s aged school buildings. The Filter First legislation is a game changer for Michigan children.”
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Chuanwu Xi, professor of environmental health sciences and global public health at the School of Public Health, is an expert on environmental microbiology and water quality. His research focuses on biofilms, water quality and treatment, and human health.
“Though it is a great effort to protect children’s health, it is important to continue the unfinished job of replacing pipes and improving our aging infrastructures,” he said.
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Stuart Batterman is a professor of environmental health sciences and global public health in the School of Public Health and professor of water resources and environmental engineering at the College of Engineering. His research and teaching interests address environmental impact assessment, human exposure and health risk assessment, and environmental management.
“Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning,” he said. “Lead can be in water, dust and air at schools, homes and other settings. This new statewide program addresses the need for safe water at schools.”
Batterman also serves on Michigan’s Statewide Drinking Water Advisory Council, which recently released a public education toolkit, Know Your Water. “It’s a great resource for the public, community organizations, water suppliers and others,” he said.
Laura Gultekin, clinical assistant professor and family nurse practitioner at the School of Nursing, works as a nurse navigator in a Head Start program in Detroit, where kids are disproportionately impacted by lead exposure. Talking to families about the risks of lead exposure and ways to mitigate its effects are part of her regular practice.
“Children under the age of 5 are especially vulnerable to the health and developmental effects of lead exposure,” she said. “For children who are spending the majority of their waking hours in school or day care, we have a responsibility to ensure that the water in these spaces is safe from lead.”
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