How can I prevent being exposed to lead in my water?

Flush your pipes before using your water if it has sat still for more than 6 hours. 
If you have not used your water for several hours, flushing your pipes may reduce the amount of soluble (dissolved) lead in your drinking water. To flush the pipes in your home, do any of the following for at least five minutes:

  • Turn a cold water faucet on all the way and let it run.
  • Take a shower.
  • Run a load of laundry.
  • Run your dishwasher.

Before using the water from any specific faucet for drinking or cooking, run the cold water again until goes from room temperature to cold. This flushes out any water that had been sitting in that sink’s pipes and faucet.

Using a filter can reduce lead in drinking water. 
Households with children and/or pregnant women should use a lead-reducing filter. If you are not able to afford the cost of a lead-reducing filter, contact the Berrien County Health Department. 

Both particulate and soluble lead can be safely removed from drinking water by using a water filter certified to reduce lead in drinking water. Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. The U.S. EPA also recommends that the filter be certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate reduction. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the filter and maintain it.

Use cold filtered water for:
Mixing powdered infant formula (using your typical process). It is OK to warm the cold filtered water as needed.

Use cold filtered or flushed water for:
Drinking, cooking, or rinsing food or brushing your teeth.

Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking.
Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Lead dissolves more easily into hot water.

It’s okay to use water that’s not filtered or flushed for:
Showering and bathing. Avoid swallowing the water if lead is a concern.
Washing your hands, dishes, clothes, and for cleaning.

Don’t try to remove lead by boiling the water.
It won’t work. Water evaporates during boiling, so levels of lead in the water may end up higher than before boiling.

Clean the aerators on your faucets.
Aerators (the mesh screens on your sink faucet) can trap pieces of particulate lead. Clean your drinking water faucet aerator at least every six months. If there is construction or repairs to the public water system or pipes near your home, clean your drinking water faucet aerator every month until the work is done.

Replace plumbing, pipes, and faucets that may add lead into your drinking water.
Older faucets, fittings, and valves sold before 2014 may contain up to 8% lead, even if marked “lead-free.” Replace faucets with those made in 2014 or later and are certified to contain 0.25% lead or less.

Show All Answers

1. What is lead?
2. How can I be exposed to lead?
3. How does lead get into drinking water?
4. How can I prevent being exposed to lead in my water?
5. Why does flushing the water before drinking make it safe?
6. What are some of the health problems lead can cause?
7. Where can I get my child’s blood tested for lead?
8. What does an "elevated blood lead level" mean?
9. Should I have my child tested for lead?
10. Where can I go to get my water tested?
11. Will it cost me anything to get my water tested for lead?
12. What else is the Berrien County Health Department doing?
13. What is a lead service line?
14. How do I know if I have a lead service line going to my house?
15. Where can I go to find more information?