With recent news that the Biden Administration wants to replace all lead pipes, it is necessary to understand the role of industry in promoting the use of lead. In 1933, the Lead Industries Association published a series of articles supporting the use of lead despite mounting evidence that suggested its harmful health effects. Though lead pipes carrying drinking water were recognized as a cause of lead poisoning by the 1800s in the United States, cities and towns did not begin to prohibit or restrict their use until the 1920s.
In response to these new regulations, the Lead Industries Association (LIA), the trade association for companies that made lead-based products, began a series of campaigns directed at plumbers’ organizations, local water authorities, architects, and federal officials. This article written by the LIA itself points to this history of industry influence. Check out these archived documents for a closer look at the role of the Lead Industries Association in encouraging the use of lead while neglecting to address the negative health effects!