Trace amounts of lead, copper in water supply at Fort Polk

By By Lauren Manary / American Press

Testing of tap water for military family housing at Fort Polk found the water supply contained trace amounts of potentially

dangerous inorganic contaminants in some homes — including levels of lead and copper — that have prompted further action.

Last year, one housing area on the

military installation was found to have lead levels that exceeded the

levels laid out by

the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. Four of 20 water

samples taken from homes in the North Fort housing area

in July 2013 were found to have lead, prompting LDHH to require

more frequent testing of Fort Polk’s water supply. LDHH requires

healthy water systems to undergo a sampling once every three


According to a letter dated June 10,

2014, and sent out to North Fort Polk residents from the Department of

the Army and signed

by the post’s Commanding Gen. William Hickman, an additional

sampling of the same 20 homes and an additional 20 more were

taken on Oct. 3, 2013, and Feb. 26 of this year. The letter is mum

on last year’s secondary testing results, but reports that

the February results show three homes with levels of lead slightly

exceeding the “action level” — or the amount that requires

additional action for the water system. The February sampling also

found three homes with copper exceeding the action level.

The letter states that LDHH has required yet another sample of the 40 homes due to the lead and copper levels from the February

results. That testing is scheduled to occur between September and October.

Lead exposure over time is most harmful to infants and children and can cause problems with cognitive development and lead

to vomiting and hearing loss. Adults can develop high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, slowed mental capability

and reproductive problems.

In 1991, the Environmental Protection

Agency enacted legislation that requires action on water systems that

exceed 15 parts

per billion of lead or 1.3 parts per million of copper in 10

percent of taps sampled. According to 2013 report released by

American Water, the private company that manages the water on the

post, some of the samplings had as much as 36 parts per

billion of lead and 1.4 parts per million of copper. The letter

sent to customers this week does not specify the levels from

the February sampling.

In its 2013 report, American Water

cites plumbing and service line materials as the source of the lead and

copper. It also

cites erosion of natural deposits and leaching of wood

preservatives as typical source of the metals entering the water system.