What can I do?
If you are being exposed, removing the source of the lead is the best way to prevent future exposures.
What steps can I take to reduce lead in my drinking water?
Use a water filter. When buying a filter, read the package to be sure it is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also recommends that the filter be certified for NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate reduction (Class 1). It is important to follow manufacturer’s directions to install the filter and maintain it.
MDHHS recommends that households with children younger than age 18 and/or pregnant women use cold filtered water for drinking, preparing food and cooking. MDHHS recommends using cold filtered or bottled water for mixing powdered infant formula.
Clean your faucet aerators. Aerators (the mesh screens on your sink faucet) can trap pieces of particulate lead. Clean your drinking water faucet aerator at least every six months. If there is construction or repairs to the public water system or pipes near your home, clean your drinking water faucet aerator every month until the work is done.
Replace older plumbing, pipes and faucets that may add lead to water. Older faucets, fittings and valves sold before 2014 may contain up to eight percent lead, even if marked “lead-free.” Look for replacement faucets made in 2014 or later and make sure they are certified to contain 0.25 percent lead or less.
Do not try to remove lead by boiling the water. It won’t work. Water evaporates during boiling, so levels of lead in the water may end up higher than before boiling. Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking and do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap.
Use cold filtered water for:
- Mixing powdered infant formula (using your typical process). It is OK to warm the cold filtered water as needed.
- Use cold filtered or flushed water for:
- Drinking, cooking, or rinsing food.
- Brushing your teeth.
- Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Lead dissolves more easily into hot water.
Use a filter certified to reduce lead in water. If you are buying a filter, read the packaging to be sure it says the filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. The US EPA also recommends that the filter is certified for NSF/ANSI Standard 42. It is important to follow manufacturer’s directions. A water filter system costs about $30. Replacement cartridges cost about $5-$10 each and should be changed as directed by the manufacturer.
Instructions on PUR filter installation are available at https://youtu.be/A5wpCkR04lI.
Instructions on Brita filter installation are available at https://youtu.be/fdGjZWAF6RU.
There are screens on faucets called aerators. Aerators help keep pieces of lead and other particles from getting into your water. Clean your drinking water faucet aerator at least every six months. If there is construction or repairs to the public water system or pipes near your home, clean your drinking water faucet aerator every month until the work is done.
Flushing your pipes
If you have not used your water for several hours, flushing your pipes (running water through them for a while) may reduce the amount of soluble (dissolved) lead.
Follow the guidelines provided by MDHHS/Local Public Health/Water Supplier for flushing the plumbing in your home. General flushing recommendations are provided below:
- For lead, flush your pipes for at least five minutes. You can do this by turning a cold faucet on all the way, taking a shower, running a load of laundry, or running the dishwasher. Then, before using the water from any specific faucet for drinking or cooking, run the water again until it goes from room temperature to cold. This flushes out any water that had been sitting in that sink’s pipes and faucets.
However, flushing may not help reduce the amount of lead particles in your water. Using an NSF/ANSI-certified filter is a way to ensure that both soluble and particulate lead is minimized. MDHHS recommends that households with children younger than age 18 and/or pregnant women use a certified water filter until the public water supply or local health department indicates that the ALE has ended. Flush your pipes before using your water, even if you’re filtering it.
Keep Children Away from Lead Paint and Dust
- Use wet paper towels to clean up lead dust. Be sure to clean around windows, play areas and floors.
- Wash hands and toys often, especially before eating and sleeping. Use soap and water.
- Use contact paper or duct tape to cover chipping or peeling paint.
- Home repairs like sanding or scraping paint can make dangerous dust.
- Keep children and pregnant women away from the work area.
- Make sure you and/or any workers are trained in lead-safe work practices.
Well Fed Means Less Lead
It is important that your family has regular meals and snacks. This may help keep lead from being absorbed. For children and adults, three key nutrients can play a role in protecting the body from the harmful effects of lead: calcium, iron and vitamin C. Additionally, from the start, breast milk provides the best nutrition and many health benefits for babies.
- EAT LESS:
- Fried foods
- High fat meats such as sausage, bacon and hot dogs
- Foods cooked with fatty meats, butter and lard
- High fat snacks such as chips and cakes
- EAT MORE:
- Lean meats
- Baked, broiled or steamed food
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Low fat snacks such as pretzels, graham crackers and frozen fruit juice pops
- Storing foods in imported lead-glazed pottery or leaded crystal
- Fruits or vegetables grown in lead-contaminated soil
- Foods or drinks made with lead-contaminated water
And remember - always wash your hands before you eat!