Seminar focuses on harmful effects of lead in water

 IPH Assistant Professor, Donald M. Axelrad Ph.D., speaking on lead in the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.


As many as 500,000 children ages 1-5 in the U.S. are currently facing risks of lead exposure, according to medical experts.

Common risks associated with lead exposure include IQ deficits, attention and learning disorders, slowed growth and development, ADHD and criminal behavior.

“There are many side effects from lead exposure that are unfavorable for children and adults. I never want to see anyone affected by the use of lead,” said Donald M. Axelrad, a professor in FAMU’s Institute of Public Health and the keynote speaker during a Thursday event.

Researchers, associate professors and graduate students attended an IPH seminar series hosted by the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Axelrad addressed the infamous case of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan.  Lead exposure is a common national issue and affects mostly children.

While presenting, Axelrad talked about his concerns regarding lead exposure.

Lead integrated inside water is only a part of the issue. Dust lead, renovation lead, soil lead and soil ingestion are additional ways lead exposure affects people, he said. Lead water is the second most common method of exposure, following dust. 

According to A Roadmap to Child Lead Exposure 2016, Michigan faced many financial setbacks from lead exposure in 2014. Nearly $171 million was used for increased crime and lifetime earning reductions; $65 million for adult crimes related to childhood lead; and $18 million for the treatment of lead-related ADHD.

Juvenile incarceration also was a major factor related to childhood lead costing roughly $13.5 million.

Tallahassee researchers are currently testing water pipes, faucets and drains for any possible occurrence of lead. The project is focused on 16 elementary schools, which were selected for lead testing, because they operate in buildings built before 1986.

IPH Associate Professor Arlesia Mathis said there are opportunities that would better the Leon County schools’ water faucets and filters.

“Are there any funding services, such as grants, available to assist in the Tallahassee lead project?” asked Mathis.

Being awarded research grants would be ideal for the IPH and partnering agencies. Grants not only relieve financial burdens but allow researchers to devote the majority of their time to improving study.

The City of Tallahassee wrote in its water utility’s annual drinking water quality report for 2016, “In Tallahassee, our water source is the Floridian Aquifer and there is not naturally occurring lead in the water.”

In order to prevent lead occurring in water, water pipes and plumbing components must stay clear of corrosion.