Lead Poisoning Prevention
Common Questions about Lead in Drinking Water
*Note: water is not the most common source of lead poisoning.
How much does it cost to test my drinking water for lead?
New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has a new pilot program. As long as funds continue to be available, lead testing for water is being offered for free by NYSDOH. For more information on how to get your drinking water tested for lead visit:
Click here for more information about free lead testing for water
How does lead get into the water we drink?
In most cases, lead in drinking water does not come from the source itself but from a plumbing system such as water fixtures, pipes and solder. Water in the plumbing system can dissolve lead from fixtures, pipes and solder. This is called leaching. Soft, corrosive or acidic (low pH) water is more likely to cause leaching. Water left standing in plumbing systems over a long period of time also increases leaching. The longer the water stands in the pipes, the greater the possibility of lead being dissolved into the water.
What can I do to reduce the lead level in my drinking water?
If the lead level is higher than 0.015 mg/l only in your “first-draw-sample” then the source of lead in your drinking water is likely from the fixture.
Run your water to flush out lead
Run water for at least 30 seconds or until water is cold to the touch or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking if it hasn’t been used for several hours. This flushes lead-containing water from the fixture.
Use only cold tap water for cooking, drinking or making a baby's 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.
Do not boil water to remove lead
Boiling water will not reduce lead.
Replace your plumbing fixtures if they are found to contain lead
Plumbing materials, including pipes, new brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law allows plumbing products (such as pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures) with a weighted average of the lead content of wet surfaces of up to 0.25% lead to be considered “lead free.”
If the lead level is higher than 0.015 mg/l in both first-draw and flush samples, your home may be served by a lead service line and/or plumbing materials in your home may contain lead. Refer to the step 4 above. You may also want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality. Any measure you take to reduce your exposure to lead should be continued until the lead source(s) has been minimized or eliminated.
Where can I get more information?
New York State Department of Health
Lead Poisoning Prevention
Certified Product Listings for Lead Reduction
- Updated Lead Map of residences of children with blood levels >=10mcg/dl and areas in the county with limited resources
Children living or spending time in older homes in fair or poor condition, are more likely to have higher lead levels in their blood. Lead can harm a young child's growth, behavior, and ability to learn. Children under six years old are more likely to get lead poisoning than any other age group. Most often, children get lead poisoning from breathing in or swallowing dust from old lead paint that gets on floors and windowsills, hands and toys. Lead can also be passed from mother to baby during pregnancy. This housing map for Steuben County shows that there are older homes in fair or poor condition throughout the county, so our children are at greater risk for lead poisoning. All children need to be tested for lead at ages 1 and 2, but children six years old or younger, and pregnant women living in older homes should also have a lead screening test.