The Village of Tarrytown recently mailed an informative brochure alerting residents to the potential for lead in drinking water. As stated in the introduction of that mailing, some homes in the community were tested and had lead levels above the accepted level, prompting the issuance of the standard form letter as required by law.
The brochure included several preventive measures that residents can take to reduce the lead concentration that may be in their drinking water. Although lead in drinking water is rarely a significant source of lead poisoning, it can get into your drinking water from materials used in water distribution systems and household plumbing. Lead contamination poses the greatest risk for young children and pregnant women, so it’s great to have information available to minimize this risk to our health.
1. Have your drinking water tested for excessive concentrations of lead by sending a sample to a local environmental lab for testing.
2. Let water run from the tap for 15-30 seconds or until the temperature turns colder, before drinking or cooking any time when the faucet has stood unused for more than six hours.
3. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap, where heat may dissolve lead more quickly than cold.
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4. Remove any loose lead solder and debris from the plumbing fixtures by removing the faucet aerators at the end of the faucet and flushing out any accumulated debris. Run the water for 3-5 minutes before reinstalling the aerator.
5. Be aware that use of lead solder used to join copper pipes has been illegal since 1986. Make sure your plumbing contractor only uses lead-free solder.
6. Determine if the service line that brings water into your home is made of lead. You can find this out by contacting the public water system that supplies your home or through your village building department.
7. Have your electrician check to see if your ground wire is connected to your pipes, which could cause greater corrosion. For safety’s sake, DO NOT change any wiring yourself.
If you have a concern about your drinking water, the Westchester County Department of Health (914.831.5000, http://health.westchestergov.com/water-quality) can provide you with additional information about the health affects of lead in your water supply, lists of local certified laboratories for testing and how to have your child’s lead level tested.