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How to reduce your lead exposure at home

By Sarah Shurge – When someone hears there is lead in their drinking water, panic tends to set in. General questions usually are: how much lead? Am I at risk for health problems? What can I do to protect myself?
The City of Wayne Department of Public Works (DPW) conducts periodic testing of tap water in homes for lead and copper. They recently collected tap water samples from 30 homes in Wayne. On October 12th, The City of Wayne released a public advisory regarding the City of Wayne’s water sampling of lead and copper.

What to know:
Under Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act, 90% of samples collected must fall below 15 parts per billion (ppb). Five out of the 30 sites were found to have levels of 16 ppb, which is over the Action Level. This level is not a health-based standard, so additional action must take place and the City of Wayne DPW increased investigative sampling of water quality.
Water sampling in the City of Wayne measured levels of copper at 0.2 parts per million (ppm) for both 2021 and 2020 and 0.1 ppm for 2019. Lead levels were measured at 12 ppb in 2020 and 14 ppb in 2019.
The goal for lead in drinking water is 0 ppb considering there is no safe level of lead in the blood. Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water.
However, human skin does not easily absorb lead from water so even if you have lead in your drinking water, you can use water that has not been filtered for showering, cleaning, or washing hands, dishes, or clothes.
The City of Wayne DPW explained that lead can enter drinking water when in contact with pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain lead. Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. Of the approximate 5,950 customers in the city, 6.75% (about 400 customers) have lead service lines.
The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Therefore, if your water has not been used for several hours, run the water before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes. Additional flushing may be required for homes that have been vacant or have a longer service line.

How to reduce exposure:
In accordance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, the following are examples of methods the City of Wayne DPW listed for you to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.
• Run your water to flush out lead-containing water.
• If you do not have a lead service line, run the water for 30 seconds to two minutes, or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature.
• If you do have a lead service line, run the water for at least five minutes to flush
water from your home or building’s plumbing and the lead service line.
• Clean your faucet aerator to remove trapped debris.
• Consider using a filter to reduce lead in drinking water. (Note: The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that any household with a child or pregnant woman use cold water and a certified lead filter to remove lead from their drinking water, especially when preparing baby formula.)
• Do not use hot water for drinking, preparing food, or cooking, or preparing baby formula.
• Do not boil your water. (Boiling will not reduce the amount of lead in water)
• Check whether your home has a lead service line.

Additional information/help:
The City of Wayne DPW plans to send a public education document about lead in drinking water. They also will be collecting sixty sites every six months and reviewing the results to determine if the level’s are below the action level.
If you want to get your blood lead level tested, you may go through your healthcare provider or make an appointment with the Wayne County Health Department’s Clinic at (734)727-7100.
If you’re looking for more information about lead, visit ci.wayne.mi.us or Michigan.gov/egleleadpublicadvisory or Michigan.gov/MILeadSafe.
If you would like free water testing for lead, call the MDHHS Drinking Water Hotline at (844)934-1315.
If you have questions regarding lead and copper, contact the City of Wayne DPW at (734)721-8600.

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