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Reducing Lead in Drinking Water: A Benefit Analysis (1987)

Paper Number: EE-0344

Document Date: 04/01/1987

Author(s):  Levin, Ronnie

Subject Area(s): Economic Analysis, Benefits Valuation, Cost of Damages Avoided, Revealed Preference Valuation Methods, Lead in Drinking Water

Keywords:  Economic Analysis, Benefits Valuation, Cost of Damages Avoided, Revealed Preference Valuation Methods, Lead in Drinking Water

Abstract: 

The report estimates some of the benefits that could result from reducing exposure to lead in community drinking water supplies. These benefits are stated to be much greater than those attributable to just reducing the maximum contaminant level for lead, but do reflect benefits attainable with reduced exposure to lead through changes in the maximum contaminant level coupled with changes in EPA's monitoring requirements or other efforts to reduce exposure to lead from drinking water.

There are two primary categories of benefits evaluated in the report: the public health benefits of reduced lead exposure (Chapters 2 and 4) and reduced materials damages (Chapter 5) relating to the phenomenon of lead's presence in drinking water--as a corrosion by-product. In addition, because the calculation of health benefits depends on the extent of human exposure, another chapter (Chapter 2) presents available data on the occurrence of lead in public water supplies, and presents estimates of the population exposed to drinking water exceeding the proposed maximum contaminant guideline of 20 ug/l. In assessing the benefits of the proposed reduced lead standard, this analysis assumes that EPA will act to reduce lead levels in tap water, as well as to maintain the current high quality of water leaving the treatment plant. It also relies upon and is sensitive to assumptions about drinking water use and consumption patterns.

The report estimates the annual benefits for one sample year, 1988, of lowering the amount of lead permitted from 50 ug/l to 20 ug/l. 

The report is organized as follows: 

I: Introduction

II: Occurrence of Lead in Drinking Water

III: Benefits of Reducing Children' Exposure to Lead

IV: Health Benefits of Reducing Lead: Adult Illnesses

V: Benefits from Reduced Materials Damage

Bibliography

Appendix A; Boston Case Study

A copy of a 35 page Executive Summary of the  report is available at the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP).

This paper is part of the  Environmental Economics Research Inventory.

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  • Reducing Lead in Drinking Water: A Benefit Analysis (1987) (PDF)(347 pp, 13 MB, 04/01/1987, EE-0344, summary available as EPA-230-09-86-019)
    The report estimates some of the benefits that could result from reducing exposure to lead in community drinking water supplies. These benefits are stated to be much greater than those attributable to just reducing the maximum contaminant level for lead, but do reflect benefits attainable with reduced exposure to lead through changes in the maximum contaminant level coupled with changes in EPA's monitoring requirements or other efforts to reduce exposure to lead from drinking water.