The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the results from a water filter study conducted in Benton Harbor, Michigan. After analyzing water samples from about 200 homes, results show that when used properly, filters are effective at reducing lead in drinking water.
“No family should ever have to worry about the quality of water coming from their tap and the Benton Harbor community is no exception,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “The information collected in Benton Harbor expands our existing knowledge that filters are effective at removing lead, affirming our confidence in their use nationwide. However, using a water filter addresses the symptom and not the cause of the problem, which is why EPA is committed to President Biden’s goal of removing 100% of lead pipes, the primary source of lead in drinking water across the country.”
During November and December 2021, EPA scientists tested unfiltered and filtered water at about 200 locations in Benton Harbor. EPA determined that when installed, maintained, and used properly, filters are effective at reducing lead in drinking water. However, the Agency found residents need better information to install and operate filters properly. EPA plans to support the state of Michigan and local governments to disseminate information about the safe and effective use of filters.
EPA is working with Michigan’s state agencies, Berrien County, the City of Benton Harbor, and the drinking water system on long-term solutions. Recent inspections show that the priority operational problems have been fixed. EPA and Michigan Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) will continue to work closely to monitor the system to help prevent new problems and identify additional opportunities to strengthen operations.
While EPA and EGLE continue to evaluate the status of the drinking water system, Michigan recommends Benton Harbor residents should continue to rely on bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, and mixing powdered infant formula. Michigan will continue to provide free bottled water to Benton Harbor residents until all lead service lines are replaced. Michigan has committed to replacing all lead service lines in Benton Harbor within the next 16 months.