Lead in Drinking Water

About Lead in Drinking Water:

Lead is a naturally occurring element in our environment. Consequently, our water supply is expected to contain small, undetectable amounts of lead. However, most of the lead in household water usually comes from the plumbing in your own home, not from the local water supply. EPA estimates that more than 40 million U.S. residents use water that can contain lead in excess of EPA's Action Level of 15 ppb.

Lead in drinking water is a concern because young children, infants and fetuses appear to be particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. A dose that would have little effect on an adult can have a big effect on a small body. On average, it is estimated that lead in drinking water contributes between 10 and 20 percent of total lead exposure in young children.

All kinds of water, however, may have high levels of lead. We maintain our drinking water supply at an optimum pH and mineral content level to help prevent corrosion in your home's pipes. To reduce lead levels in your drinking water you should flush your cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get (anywhere from 5 seconds to 2 minutes or longer) and use only water from the cold-water tap for drinking, cooking, and especially for making baby formula. Hot water is likely to contain higher levels of lead.

For more information, contact the National Lead Information Center (800- LEAD-FYI) and the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).

Special Health Information:

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population.

Immunocompromised people such as people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, people who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly people, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice about drinking water from their health care providers.

EPA/CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791).