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Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can significantly increase a person's total lead exposure, particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formulas and concentrated juices that are mixed with water. EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20% or more of a person's total exposure to lead.
Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome-plated brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect your house to the water main (service lines). In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2% lead, and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials to 8.0%.
When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water. This means the first water drawn from the tap in the morning, or later in the afternoon after returning from work or school, can contain fairly high levels of lead.
The most recent sampling round of the BWSC system, homes tested below the EPA Lead Action of 15 ppb. There are steps you can take in your home to reduce your risk of exposure to lead. The BWSC has a program to continue the replacement of lead service connections in its system. The Lead Replacement Incentive Program was created to encourage Boston's homeowners to replace the private lead water service at their property. For more information download our Lead Replacement Incentive Program brochure.
To find out if you have a lead service line and how it can be replaced, please contact the BWSC's Lead Hotline at (617) 989-7888.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), MWRA and BWSC are concerned about lead in your drinking water. Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes in the City of Boston may have lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) (or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mg/L)). Under Federal law the BWSC and MWRA are required to have a program in place to minimize lead in your drinking water. This program includes:
If you have any questions, please call the BWSC (please call 617-989-7888). Follow the simple steps on the Reducing Lead Exposure page to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.