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Congressional Report: CDC Misled D.C. Residents About Water Safety

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A Congressional subcommittee report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew it was using "flawed data and faulty assumptions" when it assured D.C. residents that their water was not dangerously contaminated by lead.
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A Congressional subcommittee report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention knew it was using "flawed data and faulty assumptions" when it assured D.C. residents that their water was not dangerously contaminated by lead.

By Manuel Quinones

A top official of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the chairman of a Congressional subcommittee are butting heads over D.C.'s lead-contaminated drinking water controversy.

A subcommittee investigation finds that in 2004, the CDC knew it was using "flawed data and faulty assumptions" when it assured District residents that their drinking water was not dangerously contaminated by lead.

Subcommittee Chairman Brad Miller demanded to know why, even six years later, the CDC had not corrected that original Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, or MMWR.

Here's how it went as Miller and CDC Deputy Director Dr. Robin Ikeda sparred over the public health organization's latest release about the incident:

"What is published today does not specifically retract or correct the weaknesses of the cross sectional study, which had a very fundamental flaw that was hard to imagine was not intentional," says Miller.

"We realize that statements in that original MMWR were ambiguous and open to interpretation," says Ikeda.

The subcommittee's findings indicate that the MMWR was misleading and that at the time, high levels of lead found in local drinking water were potentially dangerous.

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