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Lead-Tainted Water, Oregon's Lawmakers Drank It Too


The water in the Oregon Capitol building has tested positive for elevated lead levels.

The water in the Oregon Capitol building has tested positive for elevated lead levels.

Chris Lehman

Some drinking fountains have been turned off at the Oregon Capitol building after tests showed an unsafe level of lead in the water.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says even small amounts of lead in drinking water can be hazardous, especially to children and pregnant women.  

An initial round of tests in the Capitol showed unsafe levels of lead in two water fountains.

FULL COVERAGE

Lead In The Water

Communities across the Northwest were shocked recently to discover dangerously high lead levels in their water. How did this happen, and what’s being done to fix the problem?

There was also lead in bathroom faucets in the oldest section of the Capitol building, which dates to 1938. That’s home to the governor’s office and both legislative chambers.

Workers turned off the fountains and added signs above bathroom sinks to indicate the water there is unsafe to drink. It’s still fine for washing hands, however.

Further tests should help narrow down the source of the lead to either the supply pipes or the plumbing fixtures.

Tests in the wings of the Capitol, which date to the 1970s, came back clear. 

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