Tell EPA: Don’t Replace Lead Pipes with Plastic Pollution

EPA Administrator Michael Regan & Local Representatives

An estimated 22 million people in the US rely on toxic lead service lines for their water. Lead is a dangerous chemical known to damage kidneys, harm heart health, and affect brain development in children.

Lead pipes disproportionately impact BIPOC communities. This is a public health and environmental justice emergency. Thankfully, the federal government recently approved $15 billion dollars to be distributed to states to replace lead service lines.

However, as states begin replacing their lead pipes, we must ensure lead pipes are not replaced with plastic pollution.

To ensure access to safe drinking water during lead pipe replacement, communities must be provided with options for filtered water. Water filters are critical to reduce lead exposure risk before, during, and up to six months after service line replacement.

Single-use plastic water bottles are not the solution for clean drinking water.
They are a health threat at every stage of their existence, from the air pollution emitted by plastic production facilities in fenceline communities, to the toxic chemicals and microplastics released by plastic when it is consumed and disposed.

The lead services pipes should be replaced with non-toxic materials, not plastics like PVC. Plastic pipe materials can similarly leach toxic chemicals and microplastics that accumulate in the environment and in our bodies.

Urge the EPA and your local representatives to provide Filtered, Not Bottled water and Plastic-Free Pipes during lead pipe replacement.

Additional Sponsors

To: EPA Administrator Michael Regan & Local Representatives
From: [Your Name]

First of all, thank you for taking the critical step to replace toxic lead service lines. Lead exposure is dangerous and I'm glad to know that my community will be protected from those risks.

I'm writing with two requests to make sure that the funds provided for lead service line replacements are used in a way that will protect the health and safety of my community.

I want to ensure my community has a reliant supply of safe water before, during, and after the lead service lines are replaced. During the replacements, lead can become displaced and affect water quality for up to six months. Providing options for filtered water is the best solution to give communities access to safe, drinking water free of lead and other toxics.

The most widely relied on alternative, single-use plastic water bottles, pose health problems during their production, use, and disposal. Single-use plastic water bottles are made from climate-warming fossil fuels and the continued production of single-use plastics will only dig us deeper into the climate crisis. Facilities that produce or process plastic and its fossil fuel ingredients pollute air, water, and soil, especially in fenceline communities, causing severe human health problems. I'm also worried about the health risks involved in the use of single-use plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles contain toxic chemicals, some of which are banned in multiple countries outside the US, and are known to cause long-term negative health effects. Additionally, single-use bottles, like all plastics, break up into microplastic particles, which have been found in human blood, lungs, umbilical cords, placentas, feces, and breast milk.

The use of Filtered, Not Bottled water ensures lead pipes are not replaced with plastic pollution. Certified filters reduce lead exposure, as well as other toxic chemicals and pollutants. Therefore, I ask that every household that undergoes lead service line replacements is provided with water filters. In instances where filters are not applicable, water buffalos, tanks, reusable bottles, or other filtered, safe water sources should be utilized.

Second, the EPA should ensure that new water service lines are made with safe materials, such as recycled copper. Plastic pipe materials like PVC and CPVC pose health risks during their production, use, and disposal. The EPA should research alternative materials and recommend that states and municipalities use the safest and most sustainable material available for the replacement service lines.

The EPA should make both of these recommendations to states when distributing the funds for the lead service line replacements.

Thank you for putting the health and safety of communities first.