Link Between Miscarriages and Lead in Water

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A study by Virginia Tech’s environmental engineer Marc Edwards supports the strong link between very high levels of lead in Washington D.C.’s tap water and an increase in the number of spontaneous abortions and late-term miscarriages in that area from 2000 to 2003.

Dangers of lead toxicity include behavioral problems, delays in childhood development, and brain damage. Lead’s effects were known even in the early 1900s when women took lead-containing pills to bring about abortions. Now, a study by Marc Edwards, an environmental engineer at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, supports a strong link between the very high levels of lead in Washington D.C.’s tap water and an increase in the number of spontaneous abortions and late-term miscarriages in that area from 2000 to 2003.

While the lead levels in D.C.’s water today are at a historical low, from 2000 to 2003, they “had some of the highest lead spikes in water ever recorded in the United States.” When Edwards analyzed data before, during, and after the spike, he found that the fetal death rate increased 37 percent in 2000 after the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority made a chemical disinfection change that put dangerous amounts of lead into the water.

The public was alerted in 2004 and urged to drink filtered water. After that, fetal death rates fell back to their rates before the chemical change.

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