Lead in Drinking Water
What are the risks of lead exposure?
Lead can cause health problems, such as damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys when people are exposed to it. Pregnant woman, infants, and young children are especially at risk.
What level of lead is safe to consume?
No level of lead is considered safe for consumption.
How can lead get into my drinking water?
When water leaves TWW’s Filtration Plant, it is lead free. The water mains in the street that transport water from the treatment plant are made mostly of iron and steel, and do not add lead to the drinking water.
Lead can get into drinking water from the plumbing inside your home or the service line between the street and your home. When water is stagnant in the service line or your home plumbing without being used for several hours, the lead may dissolve into the water. For example, these time periods include when the water is first drawn in the morning or in the afternoon after not being used all day.
If my lead service line is replaced, will all of the lead from in my drinking water be removed?
No. If you live in a home that was built prior to 1986, it is possible that lead solder was used at the joints of your interior piping. If you suspect that you have lead solder based on the age of your home, flush your system by running cold water for approximately 1 to 3 minutes whenever the water in your home has not been used for more than 6 hours. A licensed plumber can help evaluate whether or not you have lead material in your indoor plumbing, or you can use an EPA-approved lead test kit (see www.epa.gov/lead/lead-test-kits for more information).
Why do water service line and plumbing fixtures contain lead?
In Trenton, lead was commonly used for water service lines until 1960 and commonly used in household plumbing fixtures (faucets, valves, sinks, shower heads, hose bibs, etc.) and solder until 1986, when it was banned. From 1986 to 2014, plumbing fixtures could contain up to 8% lead to be categorized as, “Lead free”. However, current standards for “Lead free” fixtures allow no more than 0.25% of lead content.
Many homes and buildings, especially those built before 1986, may have service lines and/or internal plumbing and fixtures that are made of or contain lead.
What is TWW doing to lower lead levels in drinking water?
TWW is committed to providing you with safe, clean drinking water and lowering lead levels at the tap by:
- Upgrading treatment at our Filtration Plant to make water less corrosive to minimize lead getting into the drinking water from lead service lines and plumbing fixtures.
- Regularly sampling and testing the drinking water to monitor lead levels in accordance with all federal and state safety standards.
- Removing and replacing lead service lines throughout TWW’s distribution system.
Can I get my water tested for lead?
Please contact the Trenton Water Works at 609-989-3055 or by email at TWWLeadProgram@Trentonnj.org to find out how to get your water tested for lead and/or request a service line inspection.
What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?
Signs of repeated lead exposure may include abdominal pain or cramps, aggressive behavior, constipation, sleep problems, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling in the extremities, memory loss, anemia and kidney dysfunction.
In children, long-term lead exposure can lead to intellectual disability and loss of developmental skills.
A high dose of lead poisoning may result in severe abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting, muscle weakness, stumbling when walking, seizures, coma and brain disease.
More information is available at https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/
Can I get tested for exposure to lead?
Contact your doctor or local health care provider about a blood test for lead exposure or contact the health department in your municipality.
How can I reduce my exposure to lead?
- Replace your lead service line.
- Always buy plumbing fixtures (faucets, valves, sinks, shower heads, hose bibs, etc.) that have zero- or low-lead content. Read the labels of any new plumbing fixtures closely.
- Run your cold water tap to flush out lead. Run the tap until water feels cold. Then fill a pitcher with fresh water and place in the refrigerator for future use.
- Always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking, cooking and preparing baby formula.
- Do not boil water for the purpose of removing lead. Boiling water does not remove lead and can increase lead concentration in water.
- Periodically remove and clean faucet screens and aerators.
- Obtain a home water treatment device that is NSF certified to remove lead.
- Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead and any copper piping with lead solder.
- Water service lines are sometimes used to ground electrical lines. The wiring in your home or building may be attached to your water service line or elsewhere in your plumbing. If you have a lead service line, this can accelerate its corrosion. Have a licensed electrician check your wiring.
- Be careful of dust from lead based paint. Even though lead based paint was outlawed in 1978, many older homes have not removed it and may currently be a hazard. The most common source of lead exposure is generated in the homes from the dust of lead based paint.
- Be careful of other sources of lead in your home. Some household items such as pottery, makeup, toys, and jewelry may contain lead. Wash your children’s hands and toys often.