Being a Smart Consumer: Taking the Lead on Lead

Lead in drinking water is a topic that continues to appear in the news and it is an issue that American Water takes very seriously. Addressing lead is a unique challenge, since the most common source of lead in tap water is from the household plumbing and service lines.

That’s right. Lead is seldom found naturally in source water and is rarely present in water coming from treatment plants. So how does the lead get into your water? Lead can come from lead solder used in household plumbing before the EPA ban in 1986, lead in faucets manufactured prior to 2014, or in the case of some older homes, a lead service line extending from the utility’s water main. Households on private wells may have similar household plumbing.

We encourage everyone to take these simple steps to minimize their potential exposure to lead in drinking water, regardless of the age of household plumbing:

  • Flush your taps. If your faucet has gone unused for more than 6 hours, run the cold water for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to flush out water that has been sitting in faucets and pipes. To conserve water, catch the running water and use it to water your plants.
  • Use only cold water for cooking and drinking. Water from hot-water pipes has the potential to contain more lead.
  • Routinely clean faucet aerators and screens. Consider cleaning aerators on a similar schedule with changing smoke detector batteries.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations for replacing water filters in home appliances, such as refrigerators or ice makers, as well as other home treatment units and pitchers.
  • Look for the lead-free label when replacing fixtures
  • Boiling water will not remove lead.


I encourage you to learn more about what American Water is doing and the steps you can take to reduce your potential exposure to lead in drinking water by visiting our website and viewing our new lead video.