AMSTERDAM — Recent drinking water quality monitoring conducted by the city has found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes and buildings in the city.
City officials released a news brief in which they said they are concerned about the health of the residents because lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters the body from drinking water or other sources, especially for pregnant women and young children. 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 the body. 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.
Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure. The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint. Other sources of lead exposure include lead-contaminated dust or soil, and some plumbing materials. In addition, lead can be found in a number of consumer products, including certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, food, and cosmetics. Other sources include exposure in the work place — jobs that include house painting, plumbing, renovation, construction, auto repair, welding, electronics repair, jewelry or pottery repair — and exposure from certain hobbies — such as stained glass or pottery, fishing, making or shooting firearms and collecting lead or pewter figurines — as lead can be carried on clothing and shoes. Children’s hands or their toys can come into contact with lead in paint, dust and soil. Therefore, washing children’s hands and their toys will help reduce the potential for lead exposure from these sources. Plumbing materials, including pipes, new brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows pipes, fittings, and fixtures with up to 0.25 percent weighted average of lead to be identified as “lead-free.”
The results of the latest round of samples for lead taken in September 2018 showed that the city’s 90th percentile sample, which is required to be at or below 15 parts per billion, was 21 parts per billion. A corrosion control optimization study and recommendation was completed in December 2018 and endorsed by the New York State Department of Health in February 2019. This study recommended steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of lead in drinking water. In an effort to return to compliance and as a result of the study, pilot testing is being undertaken and changes are being made to the process to optimize the corrosion control treatment.
Steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in your water
∫ Run your water to flush out lead. Run the water for 15 to 30 seconds or until it becomes cold 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 pipes.
∫ 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.
∫ 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 brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law previously allowed end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, with up to 8 percent lead to be labeled as “lead free.” As of Jan. 4, 2014, end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, fittings and valves, must meet the new “lead-free” definition of having no more than 0.25 percent lead on a weighted average.
∫ Use bottled water or use a water filter. If your home is served by a lead service line, and/or if lead containing plumbing materials are found to be in your home, you may 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 or visit www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/what-is-nsf-certification/faucets-plumbing-certification/lead-older-homes, for a consumer guide of approved 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.
Should you test your water for lead?
If lead-containing plumbing materials are identified in your home, you may want to consider testing your water for lead to determine how much lead is in your drinking water. Call us at (518) 843-3009 to find out how to get your water tested for lead. The city is required to test 60 locations for lead. If you are interested in being put on a waiting list to participate, contact the city and they will determine your eligibility.
You may also call (518) 402-7650 or visit the following website to participate in a free testing program being offered through the New York State Department of Health: https://health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/lead/free—lead—testing—pilot—program.htm.
Should your child be tested for lead?
New York Public Health Law requires primary health care providers to screen each child for blood lead levels at one and two years of age as part of routine well-child care. In addition, at each routine well-child visit, or at least annually if a child has not had routine well-child visits, primary health care providers assess each child who is at least six-months of age, but under six years of age, for high lead exposure. Each child found to be at risk for high lead exposure is screened or referred for lead screening.
If your child has not had routine well-child visits (since the age of one year) and you are concerned about lead exposure to your child, contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead.
There are several actions that the city is taking to address this lead in drinking water concern. Studies, planning and implementation are continuing. Plans are being made to flow pace treatment chemicals which are not currently, j and alternative chemical use is being considered. These plans are being done with oversight of engineers as well as the New York State Department of Health. As this information is reviewed, further steps will be proposed to help us reach the goal of returning to compliance with the lead and copper rule as set forth by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Call (518) 843-3009 or visit the website at www.amsterdamny.gov for more information.
For more information on lead in drinking water, contact your local health department at New York State Department of Health Herkimer District Office at (315) 866-6879, or the New York State Department of Health directly by calling the toll-free number (within New York state) 1- 800-458-1158, extension 27650, or out of state at (518) 402-7650, or by email at [email protected].
For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s Web site at www.epa.gov/lead, or call the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD.