Lead & Drinking Water

There are several steps you can take to address potential risks from lead in water:

  • Run your water to flush out lead. Anytime water sits idle in a pipe for six or more hours, flush the “old water” out of the plumbing by running the water for at least three minutes. Let the water run until it is as cold as it gets before using it for cooking or drinking. To avoid wasting water, flush out the “old water” by taking a shower, flushing the toilet, washing a load of clothes, etc. In the morning, wait to make coffee, juice, hot cereal or baby formula until family members are out of the bathroom.
Best time of day? How often? For how long? When to stop?
  • First thing in the morning
  • After you come home from
    work, if no one has used the
    water all day
  • Before using water
    for any cooking or drinking
  • If no one has used the
    water for six hours or more
  • At least 3-5 minutes
  • This ongoing maintenance
    is good to do regularly,
    but especially important in homes
    that have lead or steel pipes.
  • Remove and clean faucet aerators every three months.
    • Over time, particles and sediment can collect in the aerator screen. 
    • To clean aerators, cover the drain in your sink to prevent any aerator parts from falling into the drain, then unscrew the aerator and separate each part. Remove any small particles on the screen, soak the parts in white vinegar for a few minutes and scrub the parts with a brush. After cleaning, put the aerator parts back together and screw the aerator back onto the faucet. 
    • Replace aerators annually and clean them four times a year. If an aerator appears to need more frequent cleaning or becomes worn, the aerator may need to be replaced more often. Aerators are available at local hardware stores.
  • If you have lead in your water, filter tap water until all sources of lead are removed, or look for alternative sources of water.
    • Not all home treatment devices can remove lead in water. When purchasing a water treatment device, make sure it is certified under NSF/ANSI 53 to remove lead. Search for certified products at NSF International or Water Quality Association.

    • Use cold, filtered tap water for drinking, cooking, preparing infant formula, beverages and ice.

    • Be sure to routinely replace filter cartridges according to the manufacturer's instructions.

The only way to know with certainty if you have lead at the tap is to have your water tested by a certified laboratory. If you are concerned that your family is at risk, use a state-certified laboratory. The RWA laboratory is included in that list and offers a test for lead for $25. Home test kits are also available, but we cannot attest to their accuracy.