Reduce Your Exposure to Lead
There are several steps that you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water:
- Flush your pipes prior to using water for drinking or cooking. The more time water has been sitting in your home's pipes, the more lead it may contain. Anytime the water in a particular faucet has not been used for six hours or longer, flush your cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes as cold as it will get. This could take as little as five to thirty seconds if there has been recent heavy water use such as showering or toilet flushing in your home. Otherwise, it could take two minutes or longer. Flushing may prove ineffective in high-rise or larger buildings that have larger diameter supply pipes.
- To conserve water, use the flushed water for non-consumptive purposes such as watering plants or washing clothes. Also, after flushing the tap, fill a couple of pitcher-sized containers with drinking water and place them in a refrigerator for drinking or cooking uses later.
- Only use water from the cold water taps for cooking and drinking. 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. Run cold water until it becomes as cold as it can get. Note that boiling water will not reduce lead and could increase the concentration.
- Use water filters or treatment devices. If you are pregnant or have children under age six, use cold, filtered tap water for drinking and cooking until all sources of lead are removed. This includes water used for making infant formula, beverages, and ice. More information on point-of-use water filters and treatment devices is below.
- Remove and clean faucet aerators. Lead particles and sediment can collect in the aerator screen located at the tip of your faucet which can increase concentrations of lead in your drinking water. Aerators should be cleaned several times per year and replaced annually. Replacements are available at local hardware stores.
- Remove older plumbing fixtures and replace with lead-free fixtures. Install fixtures and fittings that contain 0.25% lead or less.
- Replace lead service lines (pipes). Replace your lead service line with copper pipe. See below for more information on how to determine if your service line is made of lead.
- Find out if lead in drinking water is an issue at your child's school or child care facility. Children spend a significant part of their days at school or in a child care facility. The faucets that provide water used for consumption, including drinking, cooking lunch, and preparing juice and infant formula, should be tested.