In 1992, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted the Lead and Copper Rule for drinking water. Lead or copper in tap water is primarily due to corrosion of plumbing system components within buildings. Plumbing components include copper pipes, lead-based solder used to join segments of copper pipe, and faucets made from brass that contains lead.
The rule sets action levels for lead and copper in standing samples collected from faucets with the highest risk for elevated lead and copper levels. The action level for lead is 15 micrograms per liter of water. This compares to 1/10 of one teaspoon of sugar in 10,000 gallons of water. The copper action level is 1.3 milligrams per liter of water. If the monitoring results for a public water system exceed the action level for lead, the water system must conduct a public information campaign, and may be required to treat source water to control corrosion.
The Chicago Water Department, the agency that treats the water provided by the DuPage Water Commission, is adding blended phosphates for corrosion control to comply with the Lead and Copper Rule. The function of the blended phosphates is to provide a coating on the interior of the watermains, house services and interior plumbing to prevent lead and copper leaching.
Four easy ways to minimize exposure to lead in tap water:
Use only fresh water from the cold water tap for drinking, cooking, or making baby formula. If a faucet has not been used for more than 6 hours, get fresh water from the main. Run the cold water faucet until the water is noticeably colder (usually about 15-30 seconds).
If you need hot water for drinking or cooking, draw fresh water from the cold water tap and heat it.
Use only lead-free solder when making plumbing repairs. It’s the law: Illinois banned the use of lead-based solder in water systems in 1988.
When selecting a new faucet, check the label for information on lead content or lead leaching potential.