If you’re expecting or have young children in the home, it’s especially important to ensure your drinking water is safe
Even if your drinking water looks clear, it’s never completely pure. Clean water can pick up substances as it travels through pipes towards your home. One of these could be lead.
Lead is a metal found naturally in the environment, but not often found in natural water sources or in water leaving drinking water treatment plants. However, it can seep into drinking water from plumbing systems. Many factors can affect how much gets into the water, including chemistry of the water, age of the plumbing, and length of time the water sits in the pipes.
Often, the most significant source of lead in drinking water comes from old lead service lines. These are the water pipes that link houses to the main water supply. Some plumbing parts or fittings, such as solder or faucets or valves, may also contain lead that can seep into drinking water.
Until 1975, lead was an acceptable material in pipes, so it’s more likely to be found in older homes and neighbourhoods. To find out if any service lines in your area contain this material, you can check with your municipality or water utility.
If you are concerned, here are some things you can do to reduce the levels in your water:
- Let tap water run until it’s cold before using it for drinking, cooking and especially for making baby formula. This is particularly important after water has been sitting in the pipes for long periods of time, like first thing in the morning.
- If you have a lead service line, the best solution is to have it replaced, but there is a cost to the homeowner and municipality. Ask your municipality about programs or incentives for replacing lead service lines.
- Clean out aerators and/or screens at the tap monthly to remove any debris that could also contain lead.
- Replace any brass faucets or valves with fittings that are certified as meeting the NSF international standard for low lead content for use with drinking water. Check the box or label for this information.
- A water filter at the tap can serve as a temporary solution, but this will require proper installation, maintenance (according to the manufacturer’s instructions) and testing to ensure it’s working. Make sure the device is certified to meet the NSF international standard for removal of lead.
Find more information on keeping a healthy home at canada.ca/healthy-home.