Lead Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does bottle-feeding versus breast-feeding make a difference for exposing infants to lead?
Infant formula prepared with tap water may expose an infant to lead. Parents who prepare infant formula from powder should use bottled water or filtered tap water. Water from the hot water faucet should never be used.
Breast milk is an excellent source of infant nutrition and offers other benefits for infant health. Still, nursing infants can be exposed to lead through breast milk. This is because lead can move from the mother’s blood into breast milk. Under most circumstances, mothers with blood lead levels less than 40 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL) should feel at ease choosing to breastfeed. However, if a mother’s blood lead level is 20-39 µg/dL and if the infant’s blood lead level is 5 µg/dL or higher, the mother’s and infant’s blood lead levels should be monitored, and additional steps should be taken to reduce the infant’s blood lead level.
What about the water from my refrigerator water dispenser/ice maker?
According to the EPA, it is unlikely that any lead is contributed to the consumer’s drinking water from the refrigerator’s ice making mechanism or from the cold water reservoir. If the refrigerator is attached to home plumbing which contains lead, it is possible that long standing times of water in pipes before the water enters the refrigerator may result in elevated levels of lead in water or ice dispensed by the refrigerator.
What alternative sources of water are available if I am concerned about lead in my drinking water?
You may be concerned about lead in your drinking water because of sources of lead in your plumbing, sample results for your home, information from your water supply, or from hearing about lead in the water in other communities. Exposure to lead in drinking water depends on how you use the water. The most important routes of exposure to lead in water are drinking and cooking. Bottled water and filtered water can be used for drinking and cooking to reduce lead exposure from these activities. Point-of-use (POU) filters have been demonstrated to be very effective for reducing lead in drinking water.¹ They can be used for months at a time and produce less waste than bottled water. Look for point-of-use filters that meet NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for the reduction of lead and NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate removal as described here.
Why does flushing sometimes lower lead levels?
Lead can enter drinking water when it comes in contact with service lines or internal plumbing made with lead. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. If you have not used your water for several hours, flushing your pipes may reduce the amount of soluble (dissolved) lead in your drinking water. Flushing the pipes will bring fresh finished water into the house. Finished water is water that has been treated by a water provider and typically does not contain lead.
How do I know if I have a lead service line? Will my water supplier notify me if I have one?
Water suppliers must notify owners and residents within 30 days if the supply finds that a house is served by a lead service line. Any time a new water account is opened at a building served by a lead service line, the water supply must notify the owner and the occupant that there is a lead service line. Lead service lines are defined here.
The revised Michigan Lead and Copper Rule requires water supplies to create a Distribution System Materials Inventory that identifies the material of all service lines in the distribution system, including the portions on both public and private property. A preliminary inventory is due by January 1, 2020 and a complete inventory is due by January 1, 2025. Water supplies will identify lead service lines and notify residents as they complete their Distribution System Materials Inventories.
What does the Lead and Copper Rule require my water supplier to do to reduce my exposure to lead in my drinking water?
Under the revised Michigan Lead and Copper Rule, water supplies have several requirements to help reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. Lead compliance sampling identifies whether overall lead levels are changing for a water supply and may trigger the water supplies to take additional action to reduce lead. Other Rule requirements, including corrosion control treatment, notifying consumers of lead service lines, lead service line replacement, and public education and information campaigns all help reduce consumer exposure to lead.
If Lead and Copper Rule compliance samples were collected in my home, what do my sampling results tell me about lead exposure in my home?
Lead and Copper Rule compliance sample results indicate lead and copper levels in the water at a household tap after 6 or more hours of the water being in contact with lead and copper service lines and/or household plumbing. The purpose of Lead and Copper Rule compliance sampling is to determine if a corrosion control program is effective at reducing lead and copper levels in drinking water throughout a water supply from lead service lines and household plumbing. All sample results are taken together to calculate the 90th percentile lead and copper levels for the entire water supply as explained here. Lead and Copper Rule samples are not designed to measure individual household risks of exposure to lead and copper in drinking water.
Compliance sampling can reveal high lead levels and confirm lead contamination. But when testing shows little or no lead, there could still be a concern about lead in the water when lead is present in the service line or plumbing. Different sampling methods can reveal lead contamination that is not captured by compliance sampling. Particles of lead can cause unpredictable lead results in drinking water.4 As a result, compliance sampling can miss high lead levels and offer false assurance, even when sources of lead may be present in your service line or plumbing.
Once a year, water supplies provide a consumer confidence/water quality report to all customers. What information is in the report and what will I learn about my water supply’s compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule?
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires every community water system to develop and distribute to customers a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), sometimes known as an annual water quality report.It contains information about your water source, detected contaminants, compliance with drinking water regulations, and information about specific contaminants.
The revised Michigan Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) requires each CCR to include the 90th percentile value of the most recent round of lead and copper rule sampling, the number of sampling sites exceeding the action level, and the range of individual sample results for all monitoring locations. The 90th percentile is explained here. Even if a water supply has a 90th percentile under the lead action level, individual homes may still be at risk of elevated lead exposure.
Water suppliers with lead service lines or service lines with unknown material must report the number of lead service lines, the number of service lines of unknown material, and the total number of service lines in their system. Michigan CCRs must now identify lead service lines as a major source of lead in drinking water.