Frequent Questions

5. How does lead get into my drinking water?

The major sources of lead in drinking water are corrosion of household plumbing systems; and erosion of natural deposits. Lead enters the water (“leaches”) through contact with the plumbing. Lead leaches into water through corrosion – a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures and faucets (brass), and fittings. The amount of lead in your water also depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the amount of wear in the pipes, the water’s acidity and its temperature.

Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, EPA estimates that 20 percent or more of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.

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