Exposure to lead in drinking water can cause serious health effects in all age groups. Infants and children can have decreases in IQ and attention span. Lead exposure can lead to new learning and behavior problems or exacerbate existing learning and behavior problems. The children of women who are exposed to lead before or during pregnancy can have increased risk of these adverse health effects. Adults can have increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney or nervous system problems. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how to get tested for lead. There are several steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.
Periodically remove and clean aerators on faucets used for drinking water. This will remove any small lead particles and other debris that may accumulate over time. It’s a good idea to remove and clean your aerators at least once a month.
Flush Water Lines
If water hasn’t been used for several hours, run water for at least 15-30 seconds or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking. This is especially important if you do have sources of lead in your home plumbing because lead becomes more concentrated in water the longer it remains in contact with the lead source. If water has not run for several days, turn on all cold water taps and allow them to run for a few minutes to bring fresh water into your home.
If you have identified sources of lead in your home plumbing, you may choose to purchase a filtration device. Be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 1-800-NSF-8010 or www.nsf.org for performance standards for water filters.
When preparing food or drinks, only use cold water. Lead dissolves more easily in hot water. Never prepare baby formula with water drawn from the hot water tap.
Consider removing and replacing any sources of lead in your home. We recommend using an experienced, certified plumber to look for and replace lead fittings, fixtures, or other potential sources of lead. If you choose to replace your water service line, even if it is not lead, please let us know using the Service Line Material Submission form and your information will be used to update our Service Line Inventory.
Keep in mind that even fixtures advertised as “lead-free” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows end-use fixtures, such as brass faucets, with wetted surfaces containing a maximum weighted average of 0.25% lead to be labeled as “lead-free.” Prior to January 4, 2014, fixtures could contain up to 8% lead and be labeled as “lead free.” Visit the NSF Web site at www.nsf.org to learn more about lead-containing plumbing fixtures.
Other Sources of Lead
The main sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust or soil, and plumbing materials that contain lead. In addition, lead can be found in certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, food, and cosmetics. Other sources include exposure in the workplace and exposure from certain hobbies (lead can be carried on clothing or shoes).
Visit www.nsf.org to learn more about lead-containing plumbing fixtures.