February 20, 2019
The Salt Lake County Health Department is following-up on your household’s possible exposure to high levels of fluoride, copper, and lead due to a malfunction in part of the Sandy City water system.
Ingesting high levels of fluoride can cause stomach and intestinal discomfort, including nausea and vomiting, and may be accompanied by dry mouth, excessive saliva, and an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Once the exposure to high levels of fluoride ends, symptoms will subside. A brief exposure to high levels of fluoride should not cause long-term adverse health effects as fluoride does not accumulate or remain in the system.
High levels of fluoride can be corrosive to some types of household plumbing, particularly in older homes. This corrosive effect can cause the plumbing to leach lead or copper into the home’s water system. The degree of leaching varies from home to home depending on the characteristics of each home’s plumbing system. At the levels normally used for community water fluoridation, fluoride does not impact home plumbing, and once the high levels of fluoride stop, any leaching will also stop and the home’s plumbing will again develop a protective mineral scale.
The immediate health effects of ingesting copper and lead also include stomach and intestinal discomfort during the time ingestion occurs. These immediate effects will also subside once the exposure ends.
For copper exposure to be a significant health concern, a person would need to be exposed to very high levels for many months or years.
Long-term exposure to lead is a serious health concern, especially for children. Lead poisoning in children is associated with lower IQ scores and behavior disabilities such as ADHD and aggression. The length of time that lead may have leached into a home’s plumbing system due to this situation is not considered long-term.
We recommend all children under 6—affected by this incident or not—receive a blood lead test to determine if they have an elevated level of lead in their blood. A blood lead test is a simple finger prick specific for lead testing. The test is inexpensive, and most insurance plans cover children’s blood lead testing.
If your home was built before 1978, Salt Lake County has a program your family may qualify for that provides free blood lead testing to children under 6 (see the back of this letter for more information). Otherwise, contact your health care provider for testing.
The most common source of lead poisoning in children is from old paint in homes built before 1978, but lead is also present in many other common products, including jewelry, tableware, charms, ammunition, fishing sinkers, stained glass, miniblinds, roofing, artificial turf, and even toys produced in countries without strict safety guidelines.
If you have questions or concerns about your household’s possible exposure to high levels of fluoride, copper, and lead, please contact your health care provider.
*See brochure following the letter at http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/letter-to-sandy-residents.2-19-19.pdf