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Region 1: EPA New England

Questions About Your Community: Lead in Drinking Water

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There are many sources of lead in our industrialized society. The air we breath may contain lead from automobile exhaust or industrial discharges. Soil, especially in cities, may contain lead particles from the air or be contaminated by lead paint flaking off the foundation or siding of a building. Dust, both inside and outside the house may also contain lead, especially if lead paint was removed improperly.

The food we eat and the water we drink may be a source of lead as well. Most drinking water supplies, whether underground or from a surface source such as a lake or reservoir, contain little if any lead. Lead usually gets into our drinking water after it leaves the local water treatment plant or private well. The most common cause or lead contamination is lead materials in the interior plumbing especially pipes and solder. The corrosive water dissolves the lead from lead containing pipes, solder, fluxes and alloys, like brass faucets or fittings. The longer the water is in the piping, more lead it will pick up. Fortunately, if the water is not too corrosive, a protective film may form on the inside of pipes, reducing the amount of lead in the water.

For more information about lead in your drinking water and measures you can take to protect you and your family from lead exposure contact your state agency.

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