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Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water

Homeowners do have alternatives to replacing lead water service lines if replacement is not a viable option. Both the DNR and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have educational information available on how to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.

Lead and copper originate in plumbing materials and are released from lead service lines, pipes, valves and faucets by corrosion or friction. To help reduce exposure to lead, the DNR suggests considering the following actions:

· Flush the water lines before drinking any time the water has been motionless in the distribution system for four hours or more. For example, flushing the tap in the morning after little water use overnight for one to five minutes will reduce lead levels in the water. Flushing the system does not have to occur every time the water tap is open, but only when the water has not been used for several hours.

· Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap, because lead dissolves more easily in hot water.

· Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead levels and can increase the lead concentration in the water.

· Look for alternative sources or treatment of water such as using bottled water for drinking or purchasing a water filter. Be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) at 800-NSF-8010, or for information on performance standards for water filters.

· Identify if your plumbing fixtures contain lead. New faucets, fittings, and valves, may contain up to eight percent lead including those advertised or labeled as “lead-free” and may contribute lead to drinking water. Consumers should be aware of this when choosing fixtures and take appropriate precautions.

The LSL program is an effective method for homeowners to replace lead water service lines, according to Hermanson, but the funding is limited and not likely to be renewed. “Being educated about lead sources in the home and how to implement simple, low cost ways to reduce exposure every day is also very valuable.” he said.

For more information contact the city of Lake Mills Public Works Department at 648-4026, or visit the DNR and EPA websites for information about lead in drinking water.