Hundreds line up for water filters in Hamtramck after lead found in water; more coming

Hundreds of free water filters were handed out Thursday to residents in Hamtramck, where recent water samples show high levels of lead.

About 700 filters from the state Department of Health and Human Services were distributed, City Manager Kathleen Angerer said. Not everyone who showed could get a filter because of limited supplies and high demand.

On Tuesday, 900 more filters will be distributed at the same location — Hamtramck Town Center parking lot, 9521 Jos. Campau, Hamtramck.

There were long lines to pick up the filters, which were the Pur brand.

"Cars were all around the block," Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski said. "It was huge. We couldn't serve everyone who wanted a filter."

On Wednesday, the city announced that six out of 42 homes sampled had high levels of lead. The overall city water supply showed 17 parts per billion (ppb), which is higher than what's called the 'Action Level' of 15 ppb that requires intervention.

"The 'Action Level' is not a health-based standard, but it is a level that triggers additional actions including, but not limited to, increased investigative sampling of water quality and educational outreach to customers in accordance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act," Angerer and Majewski said in a letter sent to residents. "The goal for lead in drinking water is 0 ppb; there is no safe level of lead in the blood."

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Hundreds line up for water filters in Hamtramck after lead found in water; more coming

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Majewski said that "along with the filters, everyone gets a set of instructions on how to use them" and "that information tells them they can shower, wash their dishes, brush their teeth" with water out of the faucet. The filters are mainly meant for drinking water, she said.

She also said that the high lead amounts are "not every house in Hamtramck, every service line is not affected. ... People don't need to panic."

Majewski said that Hamtramck has replaced 260 lead lines over the past year, and it needs additional state funds to continue replacing older lines that are more likely to cause lead problems.

"The water itself is fine, the issue is the outdated lead services lines that in some cases are leaching lead into the water into individual homes," she said.

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield, said Thursday in a tweet that she is "deeply concerned about the elevated lead levels found. ... The health of my constituents is my top concern."

Lawrence noted that if residents want to have their water tested for lead for free, they can call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at 844-934-1315.

Free Press staff photographer Kimberly Mitchell contributed to this report.

Contact Niraj Warikoo:nwarikoo@freepress.com or Twitter @nwarikoo