Miami Valley lead levels

Most water samples show lower lead levels at hospital

A majority of the most recent water samples tested at Miami Valley Hospital were found to have acceptable ranges of lead levels, hospital officials said Tuesday.

Approximately 95 percent of all samples tested on Friday in three areas of the hospital campus near downtown Dayton were below the EPA’s recommended actionable levels of 15 parts per billion, hospital officials said. The results are being reviewed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Another testing was conducted Tuesday, and results are expected Thursday. Miami Valley Hospital spokeswoman Sharon Howard said the hospital is maintaining precautions put in place weeks ago.

On June 17, the Dayton Daily News first reported the hospital found elevated lead levels in the southeast addition of the campus. Upon further testing, two more buildings — the Berry Women’s Center and the Fred E. Weber Center for Health Education — were identified as having elevated levels as well.

Hospital officials said original lead levels ranged from 15 to 220 parts per billion.

City officials have said water systems at homes and businesses around the hospital do not have elevated lead levels when tested. The hospital is still determining what caused the increase levels of lead and have hired two national experts to investigate.

The effort will be spearheaded by Marc Edwards, the engineer who uncovered the water crisis in Flint, Mich. He is joined by Tim Keane, another water quality expert.

In the impacted areas, the hospital has shut off water supply to drinking fountains and turned off ice machines. They also ceased water birthing practices, as an infant could swallow water during the birth.

University of Cincinnati researcher Kim Dietrich, who was interviewed for related stories by this newspaper, said he received emails from concerned women who had visited the hospital for birthing preparation, procedures and delivery.

Dietrich, an expert on lead exposure and its effects, said he received three emails last week — one from a concerned woman whose daughter had just given birth at the center, an expecting mother who will deliver there, and another woman who had recently delivered at the hospital.

His message is simple: Women are not at risk, and this should not place unintended anxieties on pregnant women and new mothers.

RELATED: No elevated levels of lead found in city water supply near hospital.

“A very brief period of relatively low-level exposure will not result in important levels of the metal in human breast milk,” Dietrich said. “Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for newborns and young infants.”

It is important to reduce or eliminate all exposures to this toxicant, but women should not be fearful enough to suspend breastfeeding their newsborns or young infants, Dietrich said.

Miami Valley Hospital officials said they have set up a hotline for anyone with concerns: 937-208-2666.

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