Results from water study show levels of lead, mercury above recommended levels in High Point homes

Piedmont Triad News

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — Results from a water study conducted by UNCG’s Center for Housing and Community Studies show levels of lead, mercury and chromium above recommended levels. 

Researchers conducted testing at more than 70 homes in the southwest area of High Point centered around Green Drive, West Ward Avenue and Harvell Park. 

According to the study, in 50%, 25%, and 7% of water samples tested, the levels of chromium, lead and mercury, respectively, were higher than US-EPA drinking water standards.

“That’s very concerning. There’s no amount of lead that’s acceptable in the water, especially in the system. In the body, lead affects a child’s IQ,” said Love Odetola, a PhD candidate working on the team. 

She went door to door, starting in August 2019, collecting samples and helping install filters when needed. 

“Lead stays in the body for a long period of time. It gets stored in the bones. In pregnant women, it gets released during pregnancy,” Odetola said. 

Kim Campbell had her home on Willis Avenue tested in 2019.  

“They deemed it safe but because of the age of the home and the age of the pipes, we just decided to go another way with the water,” she said. 

After the test, she installed a cooler instead of drinking from the tap. 

“I have a new granddaughter, and I’m especially worried about her health. And drinking water that’s contaminated, that’s always an issue,” Campbell said. 

“We find that it’s in disproportionately disadvantaged communities, in rental housing that hasn’t been maintained over time,” said Stephen Sills, director of the Center for Housing and Community Studies. 

The goal is to expand testing to more higher and lower income neighborhoods to compare, letting people know what’s in the water and how to clear it. 

“We all need to know the condition of that water,” Campbell said. 

Team members say some of their research was delayed because of the pandemic. 

They recommend anyone living in an older home consider buying a dip stick water test for contamination and getting a filter if contamination is detected.  

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