1. Flush your home’s plumbing. Flushing is easy and costs next to nothing. There are two important things to remember about effective flushing.
- Whenever your water has not been used for several hours, flush water from a kitchen or bathroom faucet for at least 3-5 minutes. You will use only a few gallons of water to do this and the cost will be just over a penny. You can save the flushed water for watering houseplants or gardens or for cleaning purposes. Do this process whenever your water has not been used for several hours; for example, when you wake up and when you return home from work or school. In addition, if your faucets have aerators, it is recommended that you remove and clean them once a month.
- You do not need to flush from a faucet for 3-5 minutes if you use toilets, washing machines, showers, bathtubs, or wash up before you use tap water for drinking or cooking. However, whenever you use any faucet for drinking or cooking purposes, you should always flush the water from that faucet for at least 30 seconds. To conserve water, consider filling some containers with water while flushing the tap, and use the first flush water to wash the dishes or water the plants.
If you live in a high-rise building, letting the water flow before using it may not lessen your risk from lead. This is because plumbing systems in high-rise buildings have more and sometimes larger pipes than smaller buildings.
2. Use COLD water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do NOT cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
3. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
4. Additional treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality.
These home treatment devices are limited in that each unit treats only the water that flows from the faucet to which it is connected, and all of them require periodic regular maintenance and replacement. Devices such as reverse osmosis systems or distillers can effectively remove trace amounts of lead from your drinking water. Some activated carbon filters may reduce lead levels at the tap. You should investigate all lead reduction claims for such devices. One way to do this is to look for the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) mark on the package or product. NSF tests and verifies products, such as drinking water treatment units, to detennine whether they comply with specific standards, including the claims made by the manufacturer. Those products that pass the NSF's standards can bear the NSF mark. If you want more information about drinking water treatment devices, you can contact NSF at (800-NSF-80 I 0) or visit their web site at www.nsf.com.
Countertop filter: Filtering systems are now widely available at most home-goods or department stores. Again, filters that pass NSF's testing criteria will carry the NSF mark. It is important to follow the product usage and filter replacement instructions. Leaving a filter in for longer than its recommended life can actually cause levels of lead or other contaminants to increase because of accumulation in the filter. In addition, there is a potential for bacterial contamination.
5. Remove loose lead solder and debris from the plumbing materials installed in newly constructed homes, or homes in which the plumbing has recently been replaced. To do this, remove the faucet strainers/aerators from all taps and run the water for 3-5 minutes. Thereafter, periodically remove the strainers/aerators and flush out any debris that has accumulated over time.
6. Identify and replace lead materials with lead-free ones. Use of lead solder has been illegal since 1986. If your copper pipes are joined with lead solder and were installed after 1986, notify the plumber who did the work and request that he or she replace the lead solder with lead-free solder. Lead solder looks dull gray, and when scratched with a key looks shiny.
7. Determine if the service line that connects your home or apartment to the water main is made of lead. Providence Water can tell you if your service connection from the water main is made of lead. You can also hire a licensed plumber to inspect the line. A licensed plumber can, at the same time, check to see if your home’s plumbing contains lead solder, lead pipes, or pipe fittings that contain lead.
The Providence Water Supply Board maintains records of the materials located in the distribution system. If the service line that connects your dwelling to the water main in the street is made of lead, and you wish to reconnect to the water main with a replacement line other than lead, Providence Water will provide you, or the owner of the privately-owned line, with information on how to replace your privately-owned portion of the service line. Once you commit to replacing the lead service on your property, Providence Water will make arrangements to replace the utility-owned section of the lead connection at the same time. Acceptable pipe replacement alternatives include copper, and in some situations, plastic pipe.