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Blood testing recommended for some Sandy residents

(SIlas Walker, Deseret News)

SANDY — Health officials in Salt Lake County are reminding certain people in Sandy to have their blood levels tested for lead and copper, even though they don’t believe the recent water problems will lead to long-term issues.

Exposure to those metals can cause health issues, but Salt Lake County Health Department Spokesman Nicholas Rupp says the contamination in Sandy’s water supply most likely didn’t last long enough to cause permanent damage.

“The exposure duration, the time they were exposed to fluoride, lead or copper were all relatively brief,” Rupp said.

He also says most people who have damage from high levels of lead in their bloodstream have typically been exposed for weeks.  With copper, it could take months or even years of exposure.

“You need much longer exposure times to have adverse long-term effects to any of those substances,” he said.

Still, there are people who they believe should still be checked.  For example, Rupp says pregnant women should get their blood tested to ensure lead won’t damage the fetal tissue.  Plus, the department always recommends kids under the age of six should get tested, regardless of water issues.

“The problems with long-term exposure to lead are IQ and behavioral based.  It’s more neurological which is why the testing is very important for all children under six,” Rupp said.

They also recommend testing for people whose homes were built before 1978 because of the potential of being exposed to lead paint.

Officials with Intermountain Healthcare say they’ve seen a slight increase in the number of people asking for these kinds of tests, mostly from Alta View Hospital and clinics in the Sandy Area.

An equipment malfunction earlier this month led to a no-drink order for about 2,800 homes, amid concerns that high levels of fluoride may have caused corrosion in area pipes, leading to possible copper and lead contamination. There was some delay in the warning going out to those residents. The city’s public utilities director is on paid leave while Sandy officials bring in an independent investigation.