Lead in drinking water is an important public health matter in communities across the country. In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur with an adequate margin of safety. Since lead contamination of drinking water often results from corrosion of the plumbing materials belonging to consumers, the EPA establishes a Treatment Technique. The Treatment Technique regulation for lead requires water systems to control the corrosivity of water.
In 2016, Ohio Legislature amended Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6109, adopting new requirements related to lead and copper for public water systems and certified laboratories. On May 1, 2018 new rules became effective.
WHAT IS A SERVICE LINE?
While there are no public water transmission and distribution mains made of lead, the water lines serving individual properties may be made of lead. The City of Napoleon owns and is responsible for the portion of the service line from the connection at the water main in the street to the property line (system-owned). The property owner owns and is responsible for the portion of the service line from the property line into the home or building (customer-owned).
SOURCES OF LEAD IN DRINKING WATER
When water leaves the City’s water treatment plant, it is lead free. The water mains in the street that transport water from the treatment plant are made mostly of iron and steel, and do not add lead to the drinking water. Lead enters drinking water primarily because of corrosion, or the wearing away, of lead-containing materials in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome-plated brass faucets. In some cases, the pipes that connect your house to the water main (service lines) might be made of lead. Some common causes of corrosion are dissolved oxygen, acidity (low pH), and low mineral content in the water. Even if something is advertised as “lead free” it still may contain trace amounts of lead.
When water sits motionless in lead pipes or plumbing containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water. This means the first draw from the faucet in the morning, or later in the afternoon after returning from work or school, can contain higher levels of lead. Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can significantly increase a person’s total lead exposure. This is particularly a concern for infants who drink baby formulas and concentrated juices that are mixed with water. It is estimated that drinking water could make up 20% or more of a person’s total exposure to lead, and infants who drink mostly baby formulas mixed with water can receive 40%-60% of their total exposure to lead from drinking water.
To learn more about other potential sources of lead in your water, visit the links below:
HEALTH EFFECTS OF LEAD
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Lead exposure can result in IQ and attention span decreases, and it may cause or worsen existing behavioral problems in infants and children. Adults can have increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney, or nervous system problems. Additionally, lead is stored in the bones and can be released later in life. Because of this, if a mother was exposed to lead before or during pregnancy, the child may have an increased risk of certain health effects.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE REPORT (CCR)
Water quality report required for all community water suppliers to summarize important information about their water.
REDUCE EXPOSURE IN DRINKING WATER
Steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water:
- Flush your faucets before consuming water. Before drinking or cooking with water from a faucet that has gone unused for more than six hours, run (flush) your faucet until the water becomes noticeably colder. A typical flush takes 30 seconds to three minutes, although a home with a lead service line may necessitate a longer flush time. Note that toilet flushing and showering only flushes water through a portion of your plumbing, so you will still need to flush water in each faucet before consuming it. To conserve water, you can use the first flush to wash dishes or water plants. Once the faucet is properly flushed, you may also fill a couple of bottles for drinking later.
- Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Hot water can dissolve more lead in less time than cold water. If you need hot water, draw water from the cold tap and heat it on the stove or microwave. Do not prepare baby formula with water from the hot water tap.
- Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead levels.
- Periodically remove the aerators from faucets and flush by running water for three to five minutes to remove any loose lead solder or debris that has accumulated over time.
- Determine if your service line is made of lead. The best way to determine if your service line is made of lead is by hiring a licensed plumber to inspect the line. At the same time, a licensed plumber can check to see if your home or building’s plumbing contains lead solder, lead pipes or pipe fittings that contain lead.
- Have an electrician check your wiring. If grounding wires from the electrical system are attached to your pipes, corrosion may be greater. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electrical code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. DO NOT attempt to change the wiring yourself because improper grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.
- Get your water tested to determine if it contains elevated lead. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water, so you may choose to reach out to a laboratory that is certified by Ohio EPA to perform lead analysis on drinking water samples.
A list of such laboratories is available at: https://epa.ohio.gov/static/Portals/28/documents/labcert/Combined-Lab-List.pdf