ASSESSING AND REDUCING YOUR EXPOSURE TO LEAD
The most common source of lead in tap water is from the customer’s plumbing and their service line.
We test and monitor for a wide range of contaminants, including lead. While these tests indicate that lead is not an issue in the treated water leaving our facilities, lead levels might be detected at some properties due to corrosion of:
- Lead service line serving older homes and buildings
- Lead solder in household plumbing installed before state adoption of the EPA lead ban in February 1987
- Some faucets manufactured prior to 2014
Homes built before 1930 are more likely to have lead plumbing systems. Lead pipes are a dull grey color and scratch easily revealing a shiny surface. Lead solder used to join copper pipes is a silver or grey color. If your house was built before January 1986, you are more likely to have lead-soldered joints. To learn how to identify the material of your service line, visit our Pipe Material Information page.
It might also be detected if sediment or debris, possibly containing lead, is released from a lead service line during repair projects, or a partial replacement of the lead service line serving your home is performed. This is why it is important to participate in our replacement program if your service line is identified as lead or galvanized.
Every home is different and it is important that you do not rely on your neighbors for information, as their home could be different.
More information can be found on our More Resources page.
Reducing Your Potential Exposure
You cannot see, smell or taste lead, and boiling water will not remove lead. Here are steps you can take to reduce your potential exposure if lead exists in your home plumbing.
- Flush your taps. The longer the water lies dormant in your home’s plumbing, the more lead it might contain. If the water in your faucet has gone unused for more than 6 hours, flush the tap with cold water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before drinking or using it to cook. To conserve water, catch the running water and use it to water your plants.
- Use cold water for drinking and cooking. Hot water has the potential to contain more lead than cold water. If hot water is needed for cooking, heat cold water on the stove or in the microwave.
- Routinely remove and clean all faucet aerators. See the how to do this below.
- Check to see if your interior plumbing or faucets contain lead and replace any that do. Look for the “Lead Free” label when replacing or installing plumbing fixtures.
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions for replacing water filters in household appliances, such as refrigerators and ice makers, as well as home water treatment units and pitchers. Look for NSF 53 certified filters.
- Flush after plumbing changes. Changes to your service line, meter, or interior plumbing may result in sediment, possibly containing lead, in your water supply. Remove the strainers from each faucet and run the water for 3 to 5 minutes.
How to Clean Faucet Screens:
Unscrew the screen.
Separate the individual parts.
Remove any sediment (mineral or rust build up) on the screen and other parts. If necessary, soak the parts in white vinegar for a few minutes and scrub with a brush.
Reassemble the screen parts and reattach to faucet.
Click on the image to the right to enlarge.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) also offers guidance on cleaning aerators.
Watch the video below to learn more about lead and what actions you can take to reduce exposure to lead.
Home Treatment for Lead
Your water continues to meet water quality standards. We regularly tests for lead in drinking water and our water meets state and federal water quality regulations, including those set for lead.
The need for a home treatment device or filter is a customer-specific decision. Please note that certain home treatment devices, such as water softeners for example, might increase lead levels in your water. Always consult the device manufacturer for information on potential impacts to your drinking water or household plumbing.
Before purchasing a home water treatment device, consider local water quality, cost and maintenance, product performance and certifications to make sure the unit will meet your needs. Home treatment devices require regular service. When homeowners do not maintain the unit as recommended by the manufacturer, it reduces the effectiveness and possibly results in lower quality water.
For more information regarding home treatment, customers may choose to visit the NSF website.
Getting Your Water Tested for Lead
Lead and/or copper levels in some homes and businesses might be detected due to customer use of lead pipes, lead solder and molded metal faucets in household plumbing. We do not provide testing for lead for individual customers who request it. Customers can choose to have their water tested at their cost at a certified laboratory. For more information, contact EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or visit the New Jersey DEP.
Health Effects of Lead
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to lead in drinking water can cause serious health effects in all age groups. Infants and children can have decreases in IQ and attention span. Lead exposure can lead to new learning and behavior problems or exacerbate existing learning and behavior problems. The children of women who are exposed to lead before or during pregnancy can have increased risk of these adverse health effects. Adults can have increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney or nervous system problems.