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What You Need to Know About Lead In Tap Water
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

 

MOST RECENT TEST RESULTS

90% Lead Levels in MWRA System of Fully-Supplied Communities:
September 2013

The most recent sampling round, once again, meets the Lead Action Level.

MWRA Lead Levels Sept 2013

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MORE INFORMATION

HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK: Important information from the U.S. EPA on how to reduce your risk from lead from all sources

FOR LOCAL WATER SERVICE PROVIDERS
Forms and technical resources
VIDEO
BROCHURE

cover of lead in tap water

Could There be Lead in Your Tap Water? (627K PDF)

RELATED PAGES
More details on lead sampling results
Historical Data 1998-2011
List of DEP Certified Lead Testing Labs
Lead and Faucets Q&A
Frequently Asked Questions about MWRA Drinking Water
WATER TEST RESULTS
Annual Test Results
Monthly Test Results
TESTIMONY
Testimony provided to Congress by MWRA on behalf of the American Waterworks Association( 03/11/05) - PDF
MWRA Testimony on Lead Before the Boston City Council Committee on Health and Human Services (12/01/05)
EXTERNAL LINKS

General lead information: Mass. Department of Public Health Childhood Lead Prevention Program Tel.: (800) 532-9571

Water Filters: National Sanitation Foundation
Tel.: (800) NSF-8010

Mass. State Regulations: Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Supply Tel.: (617) 292-5770

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Lead Information: U.S. EPA website

Centers for Disease Control Lead Information: CDC website

CONTACT US
MWRA Water Quality Hotline 617-242-5323

Email: Joshua Das

MWRA WATER IS LEAD-FREE

MWRA source waters, the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs, contain no lead.

HOW CAN LEAD GET INTO MY WATER?

Lead can get into tap water if you have lead pipes in your home. Lead can also enter tap water from if you have lead solder or brass fixtures in your home. Corrosion or wearing away of lead-based materials can add lead to tap water, especially if water sits for a long time in the pipes before use.

Lead can also leach into water if lead is used in locally owned service pipes that connect your home to MWRA's water mains. Most pipes that carry water to your community are made of iron or steel, and do not add lead to your water. If you have concerns about your local water pipes, you should contact your local water department. A contact list is posted on this website.

REDUCE POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO LEAD

To reduce your potential exposure, you should always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking and cooking. You should always buy plumbing fixtures that have zero- or low-lead levels. Read the labels of any new plumbing fixtures closely. Get your water tested.

Here are more steps you can take:

Further suggestions are listed below.

MWRA MEETS LEAD STANDARDS

Under U.S. EPA rules, each year, MWRA and your local water department must test tap water in a sample of homes that are likely to have high lead levels. These are usually homes with lead service lines or lead solder. The EPA rule requires that 9 out of 10, or 90%, of the sampled homes must have lead levels below the Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb).

UPDATE ON LEAD AND COPPER SAMPLING

Good News on Lead Levels
The most recent sampling round, once again, meets the Lead Action Level. Results from lead and copper samples collected in September 2013 show that 98.2% of the targeted high-risk homes had lead levels equal to or below the Lead Action Level (AL) of 15 parts per billion (ppb), meeting the requirement of at least 90%. The 90% value was 6.3 ppb. MWRA, as a system, has met 18 straight rounds.

WHAT MWRA IS DOING TO LOWER LEAD LEVELS AT THE TAP

MWRA has made the water less corrosive, thereby reducing the leaching of lead into drinking water. In 1996, MWRA began operating a facility in Marlborough where sodium carbonate and carbon dioxide are added to adjust the water's pH and buffering capacity. This change has made the water less likely to leach lead from the pipes.

Lead levels in found in sample tests of tap water have dropped significantly since this treatment change. Also, local water departments are working to decrease lead corrosion by replacing existing lead lines.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO REDUCE POTENTIAL EXPOSURE TO LEAD

To reduce your potential exposure, you should always use fresh, cold, running water for drinking and cooking. You should always buy plumbing fixtures that have zero- or low-lead levels. Read the labels of any new plumbing fixtures closely.

Here are more steps you can take:

  • Be careful of places you may find lead in your home. Paint, soil, dust and some pottery may contain lead.
  • Run tap water until after the water feels cold. Then fill a fresh pitcher with fresh water and place in the refrigerator for future use.
  • Never use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking, especially when making baby formula or food for infants.
  • As your local water department if there are lead service pipes leading to your home.
  • Test your tap water. Contact MWRA (617) 242-5323, or check our website for a list of certified labs.
  • Call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (1-800-532-9571) for health information, or visit their website: http://www.mass.gov/dph.

IMPORTANT LEAD INFORMATION FROM EPA

Infants and young children are typically more vulnerable to lead in drinking water than the general population. It is possible that lead levels in your home may be higher than levels in other homes in your community as a result of materials used in your home's plumbing. Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning disabilities. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. If you are concerned about lead levels in your home's water, you may wish to have your water tested (Click here for a list of certified testing labs). Flush the water until after the water is cold before you use it.


SHOULD I BUY A HOME FILTRATION SYSTEM OR BOTTLED WATER?

For MWRA households, average water and sewer costs are less than one cent per gallon. Most homes in the service area do not have lead issues with their tap water. Also, simply running your tap until the water is noticeably colder, after the water has been sitting for several hours, is usually a much cheaper and effective alternative to a filter or bottled water. Some water filtration systems do not remove lead. Before you purchase a filter, you should verify the manufacturer’s claim. A good resource is the National Sanitation Foundation at http://www.nsf.org or at 1-877-867-3435. If your water has elevated levels of lead after flushing, bottled water is an option, but it may cost as much as 1000 times more than tap water.

CONTACT US

If you have questions or would like more information about lead in drinking water, please call our Water Quality Hotline: 617-242-5323, or email Joshua Das, Project Manager, Public Health: joshua.das@mwra.state.ma.us

Go to more details on lead sampling results.

Updated July 8, 2014