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Information about Lead in Drinking Water

Lead is not present in City drinking water when it leaves our water treatment plants and underground pipes. Water can leach lead from brass or chromed-plated brass faucets and fixtures in the home. If you have questions about City drinking water, contact the Water Quality Lab at (717) 291-4818.

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The City of Lancaster is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, test methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Lead Poisoning Prevention FAQ

What is lead poisoning?
It’s a condition caused by swallowing or inhaling lead. Even small amounts of lead can be harmful especially to small children.

Why is it important to know about lead poisoning?
It is very common. Older homes and buildings often still have lead based paint. Lead can harm any child regardless of where that child lives – rural, suburban or city.

How does lead affect children?
At lower blood levels lead may damage the nervous system, interfere with growth, harming, lower I.Q. scores, cause behavior problems and make learning difficult. At high blood levels it is toxic possibly leading to coma, convulsions and or death.

What are some symptoms of lead poisoning?
Often the signs are not easily seen. There may be stomachache, headache, fatigue or irritability.

What are some sources of lead in a child’s environment?
• Painted surfaces, paint dust, chipping and peeling paint. Homes built before 1979 are more apt to have lead paint inside or outside. Lead was taken out of most paint by 1978. Old toys and furniture may also have lead paint.
• Soil – Areas outside where chips and dust from paint has fallen, and lead-based insecticides.
• Water - In some places old plumbing may have lead pipes or lead solder. Check your plumbing. Water coming from the Lancaster water system is free of lead.
• Other sources of lead – poorly glazed pottery, fishing weights, antique pewter and some hobby items such as stained glass, furniture refinishing.

Is there lead-based paint in my home?
Most all homes constructed prior to 1978 contain some levels of lead-paint. When remodeling, or repainting, dangerous levels of lead-paint dust can be released in the air settling on the ground and through open windows or screens. Special precautions must be taken by any person engaged in any type of building or home. This is especially important if children are present or in the area. Children are very sensitive to lead and exposure could cause serious mental and physical problems

If you are working on a pre-1978 property, please read the following:
Make sure lead safety is a part of your renovation. EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) requires that firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and pre-schools built before 1978 have their firm certified by EPA, use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers and follow lead-safe work practices.  In order to become certified renovators, individuals must take training from an EPA-accredited training provider. For firms to be certified, they must submit an application and fee to EPA online. For more information, visit www.epa.gov/lead or call the Lead Hotline: 1 (800) 424-LEAD [5323].

How do I find out if my child has been exposed to lead?
Get your child screened – the younger the better! Call your doctor to have your child tested.

What is the test like?
It is a quick blood test.

If the test is positive, what can I do??
With the guidance of your health care professional, the Health Unit can assist you in getting your child free from lead. Steps you can take include:
• Regular medical attention
• Dietary changes for proper nutrition
• Safe removal of lead hazards in your home?
• Proper cleaning techniques in the home

What services does the City offer?
The City of Lancaster offers free education about lead hazards to help lower lead blood levels and free instruction on paint removal and lead hazard removal.

In certain cases, and when funding is available, the HNRU office will administer a Lead Program to identify lead hazards in a property where there is a child under the age of six residing or visiting the property for at least six hours a week. The Lead Program will assist only those properties that are considered target housing as defined by Title X of the Lead Disclosure Rule.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Health Division at:

120 N. Duke Street
P.O. Box 1599
Lancaster, PA  17608-1599
(717) 291-4714 or (717) 291-4782
E-mail: health@cityoflancasterpa.com