Sherry Slaper was at wit’s end trying to help her lead poisoned daughter.
She followed the orders of the Erie County Health Department by painting over the lead paint on her window sills and staircase, throwing away cheap Chinese toys that can contain traces of lead and obsessively cleaning her Kaisertown apartment. But her daughter’s lead levels did not drop.
“It was a storm of emotions,” Slaper said. “You go from being angry to scared to sad.”
Could it be the water, she thought? To be safe, she installed a water filter on her kitchen faucet. Then — and only then — did her daughter’s’ lead level decrease.
There is no way to know for sure how her daughter got sick. But Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech University’s civil engineering professor credited with helping uncover the lead in water crisis in Flint, Michigan, said “water is always underestimated.”
Investigative Post subsequently determined through independent testing by Virginia Tech University that Slaper’s tap water had lead at concentrations greater than what is allowed in bottled water, the standard adopted by the City of Buffalo.
Slaper’s situation reflects ongoing problems with the way drinking water providers test for lead in tap water and how the Erie County Health Department downplays the risks.
Most water utilities, including those in Western New York, collect one sample of tap water to test for lead. But Edwards said a more comprehensive sampling of multiple bottles of water produces more accurate results.
Read the story in its entirety on Investigative Post's website.