The Start of the The Clean Water for Healthy Living Initiative

Date: 10/17/2018

Author: Cassie Oswood, Public Relations Manager

IfSC Associated Director, Dr. Garett Sansom and Toxicologist, Dr. Leslie Cizmas, are leading The Clean Water for Healthy Living Initiative project. The objective of this project is to collect and analyze the drinking water in homes and schools in Houston neighborhoods along the Houston Ship Channel. These neighborhoods offer an unique opportunity due to the use of a chloramination disinfection in the water purification process. In conjunction with the chloramination, these neighborhoods also have older infrastructure which can make them more vulnerable to the leaching of lead. The team of researchers will be testing for elevated levels of lead from 15-20 samples of drinking water collected in these neighborhoods.. The purpose of disinfecting the water with the chloramination process is to kill biological pathogens and germs. Chloramines are a group of chemical compounds that contain chlorine and ammonia  However when they are used with free chlorines, chloramines can corrode the pipes of the water system and leach lead into the water.

Piping that has corroded and leach lead into the drinking water

Chloramination has become a popular alternative to chlorine disinfection to meet the restrictions of the Environmental Protection Agency on trihalomethanes. Chloramination produces significantly less byproducts in the water system. Unfortunately, chloramination can also degrade the biofilm in the pipes that protects the pipes from leaching.

In a joined effort with the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services, the IfSC will collect the water samples and provide a detailed report of their findings to the homeowners. The results of this project will be used to inform a larger project in 2019-20.