A D.C. resident filed suit against the city's main water utility this week, a month after a new study of lead levels in tap water challenged previous assertions made by a GW professor in a scientific journal.
John Parkhurst filed a class-action lawsuit Tuesday morning in D.C. Superior Court, alleging that the Water and Sewage Authority learned in 2001 that "dangerous levels of lead" had leaked into the city's drinking water, but did not alert D.C. residents of the hazard.
The water utility instead took steps to hide the problem from the public, Parkhurst alleges in his complaint.
After the high water lead levels were exposed, WASA funded a study conducted by recently retired GW professor Tee Guidotti that concluded no harm had come from the contaminated water supply. But editors of the National Institutes of Health journal, which published the study, said last week that Guidotti's conclusions were dubious and that the University's contractual agreement with WASA may have inappropriately influenced his findings.
Parkhurst's suit cites Guidotti's study as evidence that WASA deliberately misled the public about the contamination, saying that "in violation of scientific standards, the author ignored direction from his peer reviewers to remove the 'scientifically dubious' conclusion that there was no health impact attributable to the elevated levels of lead in WASA's water."
As part of his contract with WASA, Guidotti had to obtain approval from the organization before he submitted his findings to the NIH journal, The Washington Post reported.
Guidotti told The Hatchet last week that his study was "perfectly valid."
Parkhurst's two 8-year-old sons have learning and behavior problems, which he attributes to exposure to the water contamination.
The class action suit is seeking $200 million for his children and any other children 6 or younger that drank the contaminated water between 2001 and 2004, according to the complaint.