Lead Contamination in Congressional Office Building Forces Water Shutdown

By Alice B. Lloyd, originally posted on June 29, 2016


By now we’re used to Congress’s abysmal public approval ratings and the complaints of our fellow citizens. “They’re doing what with my tax dollars!?” they exclaim. “Geez. It’s almost like there’s something in the water.”

Well, actually, there is something in the water.

Tuesday night, the superintendent for the House of Representatives office buildings (where your congressman works) emailed an ominous warning: Don’t drink the tap water, Politico reported.

In a “dear colleagues” letter, House office buildings superintendent William Weidemeyer told members and staff that the Cannon House Office Building was experiencing lead levels above normal, according to a recent water test.

This week, the AOC received results within the Cannon House Office Building that indicate lead levels in drinking water sources are slightly above the EPA standard,” the email reads. “Although the cause of the increase remains under investigation, in an abundance of caution all drinking water sources and office-provided water filtration units in the building will be turned off beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

The office will be providing bottled water for drinking.

Cannon is one of the three House office buildings for members of Congress. The other two are Longworth and Rayburn.

In March, InsideSources reported that Marc Edwards, the environmental engineer who exposed lead-poisoning in Flint, Michigan, suspected Washington’s water system was worse. The city never fully updated its water system after a lead-contamination crisis years ago, he said.

With Capitol Hill awake to the issue, now might be a good time to revisit the work of Dr. Jerome Nriagu. In the 1980s, he studied the decadent diets and personalities of emperors like Caligula and Nero, finding “strong support for the hypothesis that lead poisoning contributed to the decline of the Roman Empire.”

Of today’s news, Dr. Nriagu tells me, “Perhaps things like that are needed to bring the attention of the legislators to lead as a public health hazard.”

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