At least 33 cities across 17 US states have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead, a Guardian investigation launched in the wake of the toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has found.
Of these cities, 21 used the same water-testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint over their role in one of the worst public health disasters in U.S. history.
For 25 years, the Environmental Protection Agency has required water utilities to test a small pool of households for lead contamination at least every three years. Typically, city water departments ask residents to collect these water samples. But the way residents are instructed to sample their water, as well as which households are chosen for testing, can profoundly impact how much lead is detected.
The Guardian’s investigation demonstrates that similar testing regimes were in place in cities including Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee.
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