Study: Local communities have elevated lead levels in water

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A newly released study by an environmental advocacy organization lists several Bay Area communities with elevated levels of lead in drinking water.

The study was conducted by the National Resource Defense Council. It found that unsafe lead levels are widespread in the United States.

Lead exposure can cause health problems, especially in children, who are more susceptible to possible brain injury, which can cause loss of intelligence, behavior problems and limit concentration ability.

According to the study, 18 million Americans are served by water systems which violated the EPA's lead and copper rule in 2015. Those violations generally meant the water systems were failing to test the water, failing to treat it or failing to report that data to government agencies.

The NRDC study also found nearly 4 million people get drinking water that exceeds the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion.

"These are systems that would be required by the EPA to take different actions in order to reduce the lead in their water," said Dr. Kristi Pullen Fedinick, co-author of the study.

LINK: Read the entire report (PDF)

In Hillsborough County, the study showed Southern Aire RV Park, Sun City Mobile Home Park and Pine Haven Mobile Home Community all had water tests that revealed lead levels above the action level. That was based on tests from 2014 and 2015.

But Wilder Corporation, which owns Southern Aire RV Park in Thonotosassa says the study results don’t tell the whole story.

A statement from the company says the tests showing elevated levels of lead in 2012, 2013, and 2014 were "isolated to privately-owned units within the park" which were built during a different era and had different "soldering practices at the time of their construction."

Wilder Corporation says the owners of those specific units were contacted immediately, took corrective action, and every test since then has turned out normal.

According to the Florida Department of Health, it has been two years since testing showed excessive lead levels at Southern Aire RV Park. Tests in February 2015 and August 2015 showed the park had zero "lead exceedances" and is now in complete compliance with regulations and standards. Wilder Corporation says the recent tests "confirm the water quality and system are in complete compliance, providing our guests with the best in Florida aquifer drinking water."

Since then, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection told FOX 13 that results of lead testing at all three parks singled out in the study has improved.

The NRDC says the only way to know if drinking water is safe is to have it tested by a water utility.

This article was updated to include information about circumstances and additional testing at Southern Aire RV Park, as well as improved lead testing results at the other two parks.