Economists put price on IQ loss from lead in drinking water

Environmental economists have broken new ground in Britain by valuing the benefits of higher IQ in children as a result of reductions in lead levels in drinking water at up to £1.5 billion. But even when other benefits are taken into account, they estimate that cutting lead levels to meet new EC limits will not always be financially worthwhile.

The calculations feature in a study for the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) by consultants WRc and Oxera. The work, which examined both the costs and benefits of meeting the incoming EC standards for lead in drinking water, appears to be the first of its kind in Europe.

The current limit for lead is 50µg/l. The new EC Directive on drinking water, now close to adoption, would cut this to 25µg/l in 2003, and then to 10 µ

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