If you’re concerned about lead in your drinking water, you can take several steps to limit possible exposure.
- Testing at the tap is the only way to measure the lead levels in your home or workplace. You can’t see, smell or taste lead in your water. If you choose to have your tap water tested, be sure to use a properly certified laboratory. Testing usually costs between $20 and $100. To find a state certified laboratory, contact a state certification officer.
- Flush your tap water. Flushing the tap is particularly important when the faucet has gone unused for more than a few hours. It takes time for lead to dissolve into water, so the first water drawn from the tap in the morning or after a long period of non-use can contain higher levels of lead. Flushing clears standing water from your plumbing and home service line to ensure you are getting drinking water from the main, where lead is rarely present. Let the water run from the tap until it is noticeably colder (this may take up to two minutes or more) before using it for cooking or drinking.
Remember, you must flush EACH drinking water faucet after long periods of non-use for this strategy to be effective.
CONSERVATION TIP: use flushed water for non-potable purposes such as watering plants or washing dishes. You can also store water from a tap that has been flushed in the refrigerator for later use.
- Use only cold water for cooking or drinking. Lead leaches more easily into hot water than cold water.
- Boiling water DOES NOT remove lead.
- After moving into a new home, remove faucet strainers and rinse them to remove any debris. This can be done periodically to remove accumulated debris as well.
- Make sure lead-free materials are used when building any new home.
- Consider replacing lead service lines. Find out from a certified plumber or your utility if your home has lead service lines, because these pipes can be a source of lead at the tap. A service line is the pipe between the curb stop and the water meter. It is typically at least partly under the control/ownership of the homeowner.
Note: Recent data suggests that replacing just part of the line can actually increase lead levels. If your utility is replacing its part of the line, it's a good idea for the homeowner to do the same. Talk to your utility about programs that can ease the financial burden of lead service line replacements.
If you are concerned that you or a family member may have been exposed to lead, consult with your family doctor or pediatrician to receive a blood test for lead and learn more about the health effects associated with exposure.
Some home treatment devices remove lead, but not all do. In order to make a well-informed and cost-effective decision, consider:
- checking with your water system or consumer confidence report to learn about the amount of lead in your water, and
- identifying a device that has been independently certified to remove lead.
, the Water Quality Association
, Underwriters Laboratories
and CSA International
all certify home treatment products for removal of contaminants. If a home treatment device is used, it is very important to follow the manufacturer's operation and maintenance instructions carefully in order to make sure the device functions properly.