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Lead and Your Water

Lead and Your Water

To meet the requirements of the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 1986 Amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act, all water utilities including the City of Leesburg must provide notice to its customers of potential sources and adverse health effects of lead in drinking water even if the system is not in violation of federal standards for lead. 

Lead is a soft metal which when consumed or inhaled into the body can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells. There are three potential sources for lead to enter the body. The major source is the food you eat. The other two sources are the air you breathe and the water you drink. 

It is very important that you avoid the intake of lead in any way that you can because it accumulates in the body. Lead is a risk for all of us, but the greatest risk is to young children, infants, and fetuses. A dose of lead that would have little effect on the adult can have a big effect on a small body. Growing children will more rapidly absorb any lead they consume, and this can lead to slow mental and physical development. You should always take precautions with the water used for an infant’s diet. You should never use hot water taken from a faucet to make baby formula or for any oral consumption. If you need hot water for oral consumption, take it from a well flushed cold water faucet and heat the water on a stove. 

The most recent test for lead completed by the City of Leesburg Water Department reflected a content of less than 0.01 parts per million (ppm) lead in the drinking water supplied to City water customers. The EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) is now at 0.015 ppm, which indicates that the water supplied to you is in a safe range. 

Even though the water supplied to you meets the requirements of the EPA, there may be a problem when the water enters your home. Your plumbing may contain lead pipes, lead solder, or other lead-based plumbing materials. When the water enters your home it may have a dissolving effect on any lead plumbing in your home if it has a chance to sit for several hours. The one way you can minimize exposure to this dissolved lead is by flushing your pipes for a few minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking. You may want to minimize the waste of this flush water by using it for showers, washing clothes, or toilet use prior to any oral consumption. Taking showers, washing clothes, and flushing toilets will not flush your kitchen faucet, but it will reduce the waste of water from flushing. Allow the water to run until you can feel that the water has become as cold as it can get. 

The EPA now requires that lead-free materials be used for all water plumbing. The City has banned all use of lead for water piping in new home construction and plumbing repairs, and has been active in removing any lead product in the distribution system. 

If you have any plumbing work done in your home, instruct the plumber in writing that only lead-free materials can be used. Prior to moving into a new home, remove all strainers from faucets and flush the water for at least 15 minutes to remove loose solder or flux debris from the plumbing. Occasionally, check the strainers and remove any later accumulation of loose lead. 

Dissolved lead cannot be seen in your water. Testing by a state-approved laboratory is the only way to determine if your drinking water has high levels of dissolved lead. Contact the City of Leesburg Water Department at 352-728-9835 or the Lake County Health Department at 352-253-6130 for the name of an approved laboratory. The laboratory will provide you with the information needed for the correct testing procedure to be followed. The EPA estimates that a test should cost between $20.00 and $75.00.