The town of Berthoud informed residents last week that five of 40 water samples recently tested contained elevated lead levels, the Coloradoan newspaper in Fort Collins reported. The tests followed those with similar results a year ago.
The five samples in questions ranged between 21 parts per billion and 95 parts per billion. The federal standard for lead in drinking water is 15 parts of lead per billion parts of water.
The 15 parts per billion value is a regulatory standard, not a public health standard. Lead exposure can cause serious damage to the brain and kidneys and is especially dangerous for infants, young children and pregnant women. The issue gained national prominence with the water crisis in Flint, Mich., which sparked a public health state of emergency.
“Berthoud is far from the only Colorado community to struggle with elevated lead levels in its drinking water,” the newspaper reported. “Nineteen of Colorado’s 64 counties yielded at least one drinking water test result with 15 ppb or more of lead between 2012 and 2015. The water systems that met or exceeded the action level for lead during that time period serve about 295,000 people, or 5.5 percent of the state’s population.”
Berthoud’s elevated lead levels likely originated from lead in plumbing fixtures, according to a town press release.
Berthoud’s drinking water system has struggled to meet the regulatory standard for lead in drinking water since at least 2014, records obtained by the Coloradoan and reported by Jacy Marmaduke show.