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Some common questions about lead exposure

How does lead get into drinking water?
Lead can enter drinking water when pipes that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder.

How does lead affect children?

Young children, infants and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing and impaired formation and function of blood cells.

Is there a safe level of lead in blood?                                                                                       

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set non-enforceable health goals, called maximum contaminant level goals, at zero because lead can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels as it accumulates in the body over time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that public health actions be initiated when the level of lead in a child’s blood is 5 micrograms per deciliter or more.

What’s the acceptable level of lead in school water systems?
The EPA recommends that school water fountains and other outlets be taken out of service if lead levels exceed 20 parts per billion (ppb) on first-draw water samples. Municipal water systems face more stringent “action levels” of 15 ppb.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Basic information about lead in drinking water