Although the water that flows through your pipes is safe, homes built prior to the mid-1980s may contain lead piping or lead soldering of copper pipes that may lead to small amounts of lead being deposited into the water that comes into your home.
In accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mandate, DPU does residential lead testing every three years. The majority of these samples show lead levels in DPU’s service area well below the minimum levels as dictated by the EPA.
1. WHAT ARE THE HEALTH EFFECTS OF LEAD?
Adults who drink water containing traces of lead, over many years, could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women.
2. WHAT ARE THE SOURCES OF LEAD?
Lead is a common metal found in some household products. For most children, the primary sources of lead exposure are deteriorating lead-based paint, lead-contaminated dust, and lead-contaminated residential soil.
3. SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT LEAD IN MY DRINKING WATER?
Lead soldering of pipes was banned in 1986. If your home was built prior to 1986, have a licensed plumber or private home inspector inspect the lines, or have your water tested for lead levels.
New brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead into drinking water. The law currently allows end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, with up to 8 percent lead to be labeled as “lead-free.”
4. WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE EXPOSURE TO LEAD IN DRINKING WATER?
If you have lead piping or lead soldering of your pipes, flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your family’s health. It uses less than one or two gallons of water and costs less than 42 cents per month to follow this practice regularly. After your water has been sitting in your home’s pipes for several hours—for instance in the morning, or when you return from work or a trip away from home—you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking. Run the tap until the water becomes noticeably colder to the touch.
The water that runs from drinking water taps does not have to be wasted. You can use this water for cleaning or for watering plants. You may want to keep a container of drinking water in your refrigerator, so you don’t have to run water every time you need it.
Avoid cooking with or drinking water from the hot water tap. Hot water dissolves lead deposits. To heat water for cooking or drinking, draw it from the cold tap and heat it on the stove.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
visit the National Sanitation Foundation website at www.nsf.org to learn more about plumbing fixtures that contain lead.
For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/lead, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your health care provider.
Consumer Confidence Reports on water quality are made available annually to City of Richmond customers by the Department of Public Utilities and contain information on lead and copper levels. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the latest copy or download it online at www.richmondgov.com/PublicUtilities/WaterQualityReports.aspx.