Lead in Drinking Water
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can Lead Get into My Water?
• Lead can enter drinking water through corrosion of plumbing
materials containing lead (e.g. lead service lines, lead solder or
brass fixtures in your home.).
• Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes,
fixtures and solder. Lead service lines are typically only present
in older homes, but older brass faucets with lead content can be
in newer homes.
How Can I Reduce Potential Exposure to Lead
• Before using any tap water for drinking or cooking, flush your
water system by running the kitchen tap (or any other tap you
take drinking or cooking water from) on COLD for 1–2 minutes.
• Never use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking,
especially when making baby formula or food for infants.
If my water has high lead levels, is it safe to take a bath or
• Yes. Per the Center for Disease Control, bathing and showering
should be safe for you and your children, even if the water contains
lead over EPA’s action level. Human skin does not absorb lead
What are lead service lines?
• A service line is the pipe that connects your house to the water
main in the street. Some service lines that run from older homes
(usually those built before 1940) to the utility water main are
made from lead.
• There is positive movement in the national approach to eliminating
lead risks. The U.S. federal regulation that address lead in drinking
water?the Lead and Copper Rule?is currently under revision.
The National Drinking Water Advisory Council, which advises
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has recommended
that utilities should create plans for removal of all lead service
lines within their systems, with a shared responsibility between
the utility and their customers. It also advised that utilities
should engage in more outreach to customers on lead, including
assisting them with testing their water.
How can I tell if I have a lead service line in my home?
• To determine if your home has a lead service line you (or your
plumber) need to inspect the service line.
• Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very
soft. You can identify them easily by carefully scratching with a
key. If the pipe is made of lead, the area you’ve scratched will turn
a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument
and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe.
• Ownership of the lead service line is typically shared between
homeowners and the utility. The homeowner typically owns
the section of the pipe that is under the homeowner’s property.
Replacing these lines require a collaborative effort between
customers and our utility. So as communities and as a broader
society, we must advance a serious discussion on how we pay to
get the lead out.
• If your home has a lead service line, contact SUEZ about working
together to get it out.
How to Get Your Home Tap Water Tested for Lead
• The best way to find out if your household tap water contains
lead is to get your water tested by a lab that is certified to test
household tap water for lead. Certified labs reliably test water at
an affordable cost. Mail-in and drop-off options are available. Ask
your local health department to recommend a certified lab.
Helpful links for more information (remember — lead is
not just a drinking water issue):
EPA Information on Lead: http://www.epa.gov/lead
CDC Information on Lead: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/leadinwater/
Concerns About What’s Happening in Flint, MI
Due to the national health crisis in Flint, MI we understand that
our customers may have concerns about lead in their drinking
water. Our key messages are:
• Where required, SUEZ completes water quality parameter
sampling to demonstrate that our water has adequate
• In addition we monitor on an annual or tri-annual basis
(depending on the system requirements) for lead and copper
throughout the distribution systems.
• The results of both of these monitoring programs demonstrate
that we are in compliance with the federal lead and
• Lead and copper analysis results for your specific system can
be found in your CCR.
Background Information on Lead in Drinking Water:
Lead does not come from the treatment plants and water mains;
it comes from lead service lines running between the water main
in the street and the home, and from plumbing inside the home.
Lead can enter drinking water through corrosion of plumbing
materials, especially where the water has high acidity or low
mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. Homes built
before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and
solder. However, new homes are also at risk: even legally
“lead-free” plumbing may contain up to eight percent lead.
As of January 2014, changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act
reduced the maximum allowable lead content of pipes, pipe
fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures to 0.25 percent. The most
common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets
and fixtures with lead solder, from which significant amounts of
lead can enter into the water, especially hot water.
Corrosion is a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a
chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. A number
of factors are involved in the extent to which lead enters the water
including the chemistry of the water (acidity and alkalinity), the
amount of lead it comes into contact with, how long the water
stays in the plumbing materials, and the presence of protective
scales or coatings inside the plumbing materials.
To address corrosion of lead and copper into drinking water, EPA
issued the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) under the authority of
the Safe Drinking Water Act. The LCR requires corrosion control
treatment to prevent lead and copper from contaminating
drinking water. Corrosion control treatment means systems
must make drinking water less corrosive to the materials it
comes into contact with on its way to customers’ faucets.
If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health
problems, especially for pregnant women and young children.
Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and
components associated with service lines and home plumbing.
SUEZ is responsible for providing high quality drinking water,
but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing
components. When your water has been sitting for several
hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by
flushing your tap on COLD for 1–2 minutes before using water
for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your
water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on
lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take
to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water
Hotline or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.