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Lead in Drinking Water - General Public

Flush your pipes before drinking, and only use cold water for cooking and drinking.
Anytime the water in a particular faucet has not been used for six hours or longer, flush your cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes cold.

Helpful Information:

Steps to reduce exposure from lead in drinking water
Exposure to lead at any level can be associated with adverse health effects.  Therefore, consider taking the following steps to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.

1. Determine if you have lead service line or interior lead plumbing or solder. 
Property owners are encouraged to check their portion of the service lines for lead and to contact their water system if a lead service line is identified. If your home/building was constructed prior to 1988, it is also important to determine if interior lead solder or lead pipes are present. You can check yourself, hire a licensed plumber, or check with your landlord.

2. Replace plumbing fixtures and service lines containing lead. If there is a lead service line, replace it in full, from main to home. Contact your water system prior to replacing the lead service line on your property.

Replace brass faucets, fittings, and valves that do not meet the current definition of “lead free.” The current definition went into effect January 4, 2014; therefore, any “lead free” plumbing materials purchased and/or installed prior to that date should be discarded or replaced. Visit the NSF website at www.nsf.org to learn more about lead-containing plumbing fixtures.

3. Run the cold water to flush out lead.  Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer the water resides in plumbing the more lead it contains. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet for about 15 to 30 seconds. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of the plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking. Flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your health. It usually uses less than one gallon of water. For those with lead service lines or until you determine if you are served by one, let the water run from the tap longer based on the length of the lead service line and the plumbing configuration in your home. In other words, the larger the home or building and the greater the distance to the water main (in the street), the more water it will take to flush properly.

4. Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Because lead from lead-containing plumbing materials and pipes can dissolve into hot water more easily than cold water, never drink, cook, or prepare beverages including baby formula using hot water from the tap.  If you have not had your water sampled or if you know or suspect you have a lead service line it is recommended that bottled or filtered water be used for drinking and preparing baby formula. If you need hot water, draw water from the cold tap and then heat it.

5. Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.

6. Use alternative sources or treatment of water. If there is confirmed or suspected lead-containing materials, such as lead service lines and/or interior lead plumbing or lead solder, in your home or building, you may consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 1-800-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 recommendations.

Water softeners and reverse osmosis units will remove lead from water but can also make the water more corrosive to lead solder and plumbing by removing certain minerals; therefore, the installation of these treatment units at the point of entry into homes with lead plumbing should only be done under supervision of a qualified water treatment professional.

7. Remove and clean aerators/screens on plumbing fixtures. Over time, particles and sediment can collect in the aerator screen. Regularly remove and clean aerators screens located at the tip of faucets and remove any particles. 

8. Test your water for lead. Testing is essential because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. The DEP DataMiner Tool can be used for assistance in locating a certified laboratory for lead analysis in drinking water.

9. Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about lead exposure. Your family doctor or pediatrician can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come into contact with dirt and dust containing lead. New Jersey law requires that children be screened at both 1 and 2 years of age. Children 3 to 5 years of age should also be screened if they have not been screened before.

Water System Sampling Results
Most water systems test for lead as a regular part of water monitoring. These tests give a system-wide picture and do not reflect conditions at a specific drinking water outlet

  • NJ public water system sampling results may be found at NJ Drinking Water Watch.
  • You may also request a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) from your water supplier.

If you are uncertain who your water supplier is, look it up here

Who to contact if you are concerned?

  • Your Water System should be able to answer any questions you have concerning lead in your water supply.
  • Your health care provider (family doctor or pediatrician) can provide you with information about the health effects of lead and can perform a blood test for lead.
  • The NJ Department of Health website can provide you with information about the health effects of lead.
  • The National Lead Information Center at 800-424-Lead or the Safe Drinking Water hotline at 800-426-4791 can provide you with information on reducing lead exposure and the health effects of Lead.

What Steps is the Department taking to ensure the safety of public drinking water?

  • Determining water system compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule
    The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)(56 FR 26460 - 26564, June 7,1991) is intended to protect public health by minimizing lead (Pb) and copper (CU) levels in drinking water, primarily by reducing water corrosivity. Pb and CU enter drinking water mainly from corrosion of Pb and CU containing plumbing materials. It is applicable to all community water systems (CWSs) and non-transient non-community water systems (NTNCWSs).
  • Evaluating large water system compliance sampling

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Last Updated: July 22, 2020