Important Information About Lead In Your Drinking Water
The Bordentown Water Department found elevated levels of lead in the drinking water of some homes and buildings. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Please read this information closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.
This notice is being distributed by the Bordentown Water Department as a regulatory requirement. Under the Code of Federal Regulations for the Control of Lead and Copper, 40 CFR Part 141 Subpart I, Bordentown Water Department is required to routinely sample for lead and copper at a minimum number of locations based on the population served.
The 90th percentile value for our water system is greater than the lead action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). The action level is the concentration of a contaminant which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements which a water system must follow. This means Bordentown Water Department must ensure that water results from the locations sampled do not exceed this level in at least 90% of the sites sampled (90th percentile result; 50 ppb).
Health Effects of Lead
Lead can cause health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children.
Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development. The fetus is at risk because developing fetuses receive lead from the mother’s bones. Children and fetuses absorb more lead into bodies than adults and are more susceptible to its effects on brain development. However, most children with elevated blood lead levels do not exhibit any symptoms, but effects may appear later in life.
Sources of Lead
Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure. The main sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil. In addition, lead can be found in certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, cosmetics, imported spices and other food. Other sources include exposure in the workplace and exposure from certain hobbies like shooting ranges and fishing. Lead is found in some toys, some playground equipment, and some children’s metal jewelry.
Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipes, brass and chrome-brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of or lined with lead.
Homes and buildings in New Jersey built before 1988 are more likely to have lead pipes and/or lead solder.
Service lines, which may also contain lead, are the individual pipes that run from the water main in the street to a home or building and consist of two portions. The first portion is the section of the service line from the water main to the curb stop and the second portion is the section from the curb stop to the home. Ownership of the service line varies by water system and the service line from the water main to the curb stop is owned and maintained by the Bordentown Water Department. The section of the service line from the curb stop to the home is owned and maintained by the property owner.
Brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free”, may also contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, that contain a maximum of 0.25% lead to be labeled as “lead free.” However, prior to Jan. 2014, “lead free” allowed up to 8% lead content of the wetted surfaces of plumbing products including those labeled National Sanitation Foundation certified. Consumers should be aware of current fixtures and take appropriate precautions.
EPA estimates that 10-20% of a person’s potential exposure to lead may come from drinking water. Infants who consume mostly formula mixed with lead-containing water may receive 40-60% of exposure to lead from drinking water when there are elevated levels of lead in your water, drinking water is likely to be a more important source of exposure.
Steps to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water
- Determine if you have lead service line or interior lead plumbing or solder.
- Replace plumbing fixtures and service lines containing lead.
- 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 15-30 seconds.
- 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.
- Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
- 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.
- 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.
- Test your water for lead. Testing is essential because you cannot see, taste or smell lead in drinking water. The Bordentown Water Department offers free water testing to City and Township water customers.
- 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.
What happened? What is being done?
The Bordentown Water Department is working closely with its Municipal Engineer, Remington Vernick Engineers, in reviewing the water treatment processes, the chemicals used in the treatment of the water, levels of chemicals found in the system throughout the distribution and the internal plumbing in the homes of those experiencing lead exceedances above the 15ppb.
With each monitoring period, the number of homes in the lead and copper sampling plan with an exceedance has decreased but the water department will continue to collect water samples, test internal plumbing whenever possible, excavate water services to check for lead service lines, hold public hearings and provide educational materials to our water customers to provide you as much information about your drinking water as possible.
To date, the Bordentown Water Department has not found any lead service lines, not found lead in the water source, tested fire hydrants near homes that have experienced lead exceedances and continues to offer free lead testing to home owners of the city and township served by the Bordentown Water Department.
Bordentown Water Department is continuing monitoring efforts and public education about lead in drinking water.
For more information, call 609-298-2121 ext. 5 or visit the website at https://cityofbordentown.com/water-department/. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s website at, http://www.epa.gov/lead, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD or Safe Drinking Water Act hotline at 1-800-426-4791, or contact your health care provider.
You can check your water system’s analytical results and monitoring requirements (i.e., the frequency of sampling and number of samples) on New Jersey Drinking Water Watch at www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/waterwatch.
Please share this information with all the other people who consume water provided by Bordentown Water Department, especially those who may not have received this notice directly.
Call 609-298-2121 ext. 5 to obtain a translated copy of the public education materials or to request assistance in the appropriate language.