DEERFIELD — The town is advising residents on how to stay safe and healthy after the South Deerfield Water Supply District discovered elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes and buildings during a monitoring period between June 1 and Sept. 30.
According to information from the water supply district, water is lead-free when it leaves its reservoirs, but lead can make its way into water through lead piping often found in older structures. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environmental Protection require public water systems to notify consumers if the lead action level is exceeded.
Too much lead, a common metal found in the environment, can cause significant health issues. It can result in brain and kidney damage and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Infants, young children and pregnant women are at the greatest risk, as lead has been linked to lowered IQ in youngsters. According to the water supply district, lead is stored in the bones and can be released later in life. A fetus can receive lead from its mother’s bones, possibly affecting brain development. Infants who consume mostly formula, mixed with lead-containing water, can receive up to 60 percent of their exposure from water.
This information is relayed in a letter sent to South Deerfield Water Supply District customers. It can also be found on Deerfield’s website at bit.ly/2LmDY93.
Local distribution pipes carrying water from the supply district do not contain lead, as they are made mostly of iron, steel, concrete and plastic. However, lead can seep into tap water through lead piping, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass faucets and fixtures.
“The corrosion or wearing away of these lead-based materials can add lead to tap water, particularly if water sits for a long time in the pipes before use,” the supply district’s letter reads. “Therefore, water that has been sitting in household pipes for several hours, such as in the morning, or after returning from work or school, is more likely to contain lead.”
Lead in water cannot be seen, tasted or smelled.
The water supply district’s letter offers suggestions on how to reduce exposure to lead and copper in drinking water. If your water has been sitting for several hours, run it for 15 to 30 seconds, until it is consistently cold to flush out lead the water may contain from pipes. Run the water for five minutes if you have a lead service line or any lead pipes in your home’s plumbing. Also, use cold, fresh water for cooking and preparing baby formula, and do not boil water to remove lead or copper, as this will not work.