LEAD IN DRINKING WATER

The United States environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Heceta Water PUD are concerned about lead in your drinking water. Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes in the District have lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mg/L). Under Federal law we are required to have a program in place to minimize lead in your drinking water.
This program includes:
1. Corrosion control treatment (treating the water to make it less likely
that lead will dissolve into the water);
2. Source water treatment (removing any lead that is in the water
before it leaves our treatment plant); and
3. A public education program.
We are also required to replace the portion of each lead service line that we own if the line contributes lead concentrations of more than 15 ppb after we have completed the comprehensive treatment program. If you have any questions about how we are carry out the requirements of the lead regulation please give us a call at 541-997-2446.
This article also explains the simple steps you can take to protect yourself by reducing your exposure to lead in drinking water.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT LEAD IN YOUR DRINKING WATER
Heceta Water PUD found elevated levels of lead above the action level of 15 ppb in drinking water in some homes. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Please read this information closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.
HEALTH EFFECTS OF LEAD
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the fetus receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.
SOURCES OF LEAD
Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure. The main sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil, and some plumbing materials. In addition, lead can be found in certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, food, and cosmetics. Other sources include exposure in the work place and exposure from certain hobbies (lead can be carried on clothing or shoes.) Lead is found in some toys, some playground equipment, and some children’s metal jewelry.
Brass faucets, fitting, and valve, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, with up to 8 percent lead to be labeled as “lead-free.”
Heceta Water PUD does not have any lead in its source water or water mains in the road. When water is in contact with pipes and plumbing containing lead for several hours, the lead may enter drinking water. Homes built before 1988 are more likely to have lead pipes or lead solder.
EPA estimates that 10 to 20 percent of a person’s potential exposure to lead may come from drinking water. Infants who consume mostly formula mixed with lead-containing water can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.
Don’t forget about other sources of lead such as lead paint, lead dust, and lead in soil. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come into contact with dirt and dust containing lead.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE TO LEAD IN YOUR WATER
1. Run your water to flush out lead. Run water for 15-30 seconds to flush lead from interior plumbing or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking, if it hasn’t been used for several hours.
2. Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
3. Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead. In fact, boiling may increase lead depending on the container used to bring water to a boil.
4. Look for alternative sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or www.nsf.org for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality.
5. Test your water for lead. Call us at 541-997-2446 to find out how to get your water tested for lead.
6. Get your child’s blood tested. Contact your healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead, if you are concerned about exposure.
7. Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. New brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, with up to 8% lead to be labeled as “lead-free.”
WHAT HAPPENED? WHAT IS BEING DONE?
Heceta Water PUD is required by law, to test water samples every three years for copper and lead from private homes. These tests have had negligible amounts of copper and lead in the past. However, this year, three test sites had elevated lead levels. Two of the sites were from vacation homes that are not used often.
HWPUD is working with Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and sampling every six months until results are below the regulatory limits.
For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/lead, or contact your health care provider. Please call us at 541-997-2446 if you have any other questions.