ST. JOSEPH, La. (AP) — State health officials say nearly 22 percent of the homes in a small northeast Louisiana town have unsafe levels of lead in the drinking water.

Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an emergency order Dec. 16 when two routine samples showed similar conditions and two more showed high levels of copper. He ordered the town to start drinking bottled water.

The state started testing the drinking water from each of the 470 homes, businesses, and schools on the town's system just before Christmas.

Federal law requires action if lead levels exceed 15 parts per billion in 10 percent of the samples. The Advocate reports state Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry said the sampling found actionable levels of lead in 21.7 percent of the 414 customers whose tests have been completed.

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