Flint Drinking Water FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions About Flint Drinking Water
A. Yes. Your skin does not absorb lead in water. If plain tap water has too much lead, bathing and showering is still safe for children and adults. It is safe even if the skin has minor cuts or scrapes. Never drink bathwater, and do not allow babies and children to drink bathwater. Rashes have many causes, but no medical link between rashes and unfiltered water has been found. If you have concerns, call your primary care doctor and call 2-1-1.
Q. Is it safe to wash dishes and do laundry with unfiltered water?
A. Yes, but dry them after. Wash dishes, bottles, and toys with unfiltered soapy water. Dry before use. Lead in water will not be absorbed by porcelain, metal, or glass. Clothes washed in plain tap water will not contain enough lead to cause harm.
Q. Will water contaminated with lead hurt me or my children?
A. Lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body. It may not have obvious symptoms, so people might not realize they have too much lead in their bodies. For young children, exposure to lead can cause behavior problems and learning disabilities. The only way to know if you have lead in your body is to get tested.
Q. We (residents) have been getting information on how to use water safely from many different organizations, and sometimes that information is conflicting. Who should we listen to?
A. EPA is coordinating with the City, State, and other federal agencies to respond to all of the issues with Flint's water. Until further notice, EPA advises that residents should always use a water filter.
Q. Will EPA change any of its policies based on what happened in Flint?
A. EPA is actively considering potential revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule. The primary goal is to improve the effectiveness of the Rule in reducing exposure to lead and copper from drinking water. EPA anticipates proposed rule changes will be published in 2017. In the more immediate future, EPA will be issuing clarifications on how samples should be collected based on concerns raised by Flint residents and others.
Q. How long will EPA’s response team be in Flint?
A. EPA will be here as long as it takes to make sure the water is safe to drink. EPA’s recent order also requires the city to provide the appropriate level of staffing and training to ensure that the water plant and distribution system can be effectively operated and maintained.
Q. The filters being handed out by the City are only rated to filter out 150 ppb or lower of lead. Many have lead results higher than that. Does that mean the filters are not working?
A. EPA continues to recommend that Flint residents use NSF-certified filters in their homes to remove lead. EPA’s latest sampling results confirm that these filters are effective in removing lead from drinking water, even at higher levels.
Q. Will whole house filters or reverse-osmosis filters be offered to residents?
A. A whole-home filter may not be effective because it does not treat water that flows through interior pipes, brass, and leaded-solder, which can contaminate the water with lead even after it has passed through a whole-home filter.
Any water treatment filter used should be NSF-53 certified to remove lead and should be located at the end of the plumbing right before the tap, so that all water that flows through home plumbing is treated.
Q. Are the old filter cartridges recyclable? Where can we recycle them?
A. Yes. The State of Michigan recommends residents bring their used cartridges to the location where they got their filter to recycle the old cartridges and to get new ones.
Q. Do the testers that come with pitcher filters test for lead (TDS meters)?
A. Total Dissolved Solid (TDS) meters or test strips measure minerals in water, not lead—so they will not give you an accurate test of your water. The safest choice is to get your water tested. Call 2-1-1 or visit www.epa.gov/flint to find out where to get your water tested.