Blood Tests for House Staffers Concerned About Tainted Water

Elevated lead levels in drinking water at one office building raises questions and prompts some to get screened

The Architect of the Capitol instructed staff to visit the health unit in the Rayburn House Office Building for free blood work. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

At least a half-dozen House staffers showed up Wednesday for the free blood testing being offered to those worried about lead-contaminated drinking water on Capitol Hill.  

The architect of the Capitol arranged for the emergency screenings after days of releasing dribs and drabs of nebulous information about the health scare related to elevated lead levels in the drinking water at the Cannon building.  

[ House Staff to be Screened for Lead Poisoning ]  

The lack of responsiveness led to a flood of letters from angry lawmakers demanding that House administrators spill about the seriousness of the situation and provide at the very least those in Cannon with immediate medical attention.  

[ Ultimatum Given on Tainted Water in House Office Building ]  

AOC aides declined to provide a final tally for how many people had availed themselves of the voluntary and paid-for check-up.  

But Roll Call saw six people walk in and out of the clinic within 30 minutes.  

One threesome seemed totally at ease with the whole thing.  

“See, that wasn’t so bad,” the male staffer said to his female counterparts on the way out.  

Another young woman said she made the appointment after being bombarded with fuzzy information about the ongoing investigation.  

“The news was alarming,” she said. “And I just wanted to check if it had an effect on us.”  

The problem is serious enough that Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers updated the FAQs for internal recipients, this time pinpointing the locations of the faulty drinking fountains (one on each floor, from the basement level to the 5th floor) that set off the building-wide dry spell.  

[ No Answer on Tainted Water in House Office Building ]  

Ayers also divulged that regular testing of additional sites is being frontloaded.  

Samples were drawn from Rayburn on July 1. Longworth, Ford and the East and West House Underground Garages were sampled Wednesday. Examining water filtration units in Cannon is on tap for Thursday.  

Another staff-only briefing has also been scheduled for July 15. “All House Office Building Occupants” are invited to pour into Cannon 311 at 2 p.m. to have their remaining questions answered.  

Contact Rojas at warrenrojas@rollcall.com and follow him on Twitter at @WARojas .

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