Grantee finds little regulation for chemicals lurking in Pennsylvania town’s drinking water

David Butts inspects tainted water collected from taps in his home in Industry, Pennsylvania, when his filter is shut off. Tests have shown his tap water contains manganese. Credit: Natasha Gilbert.

Natasha Gilbert investigated complaints of contaminated drinking water in Industry, Pa., a small community near Pittsburgh where residents have lived for years with murky drinking water. With support from the Fund, Gilbert exposed how companies have successfully lobbied to prevent tighter controls on manganese – a potentially toxic metal – in drinking water. Research shows that manganese in drinking water at levels found in hundreds of locations around the country can lower children’s IQ and is linked to behavioral issues. Gilbert obtained federal records showing the influence of corporations that oppose regulation. Some have also enlisted scientific consulting firms to produce reports suggesting that stricter controls are not needed and that children are not more vulnerable to excess manganese than adults. At times, the companies succeeded in tamping down regulation. The story was co-published by Public Health Watch and The Grist.