Important Message To Residents About Potential For Elevated Lead Levels In Drinking Water And How To Reduce Lead In Your Residential Service Lines

Every year, the Andover Water Division tests the lead levels in water from 30 homes that may have lead service lines or lead solder. The Andover Water Division found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes/buildings during the June 1, 2021 – September 30, 2021 monitoring period. Six homes tested above the Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children.

Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes may still have lead levels above the EPA and State Action Level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). To monitor lead levels, Andover tests tap water in homes that are most likely to have lead. These homes are usually older homes that may have lead service lines or lead solder, and they must be tested after water has been sitting overnight. The EPA rule requires that 90% of these worst-case samples must have lead levels below the Action Level of 15 ppb. In order to further monitor lead levels, Andover will be moving to a semi-annual sampling schedule and increasing the number of homes we monitor from 30 to 60.

The water provided by Andover is lead-free when it leaves Haggetts Pond. Local distribution pipes that carry the water to your community are made mostly of iron and steel, and therefore do not add lead to water. However, lead can get into tap water through lead piping, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass faucets and fixtures. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in the water.

Please read this information below closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.

Health Effects of Lead

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother's bones, which may affect brain development.

Sources of Lead

Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Common sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint, household dust, soil, and some plumbing materials and fixtures. Lead can also be found in other household items such as pottery, makeup, toys, and even food. Lead paint was outlawed in 1978, but dust from homes that still have lead paint is the most common source of exposure to lead. Therefore, make sure to wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come into contact with dirt and dust containing lead.

Even though the use of lead solder was banned in the U.S. in 1986, it still might be present in older homes.

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. 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. If high levels of lead are found in drinking water, water may typically contribute up to 20 percent of a person’s exposure to lead. However, infants who consume mostly formula, mixed with lead-containing water, can receive up to 60 percent of their exposure from water.

Test Your Home for Lead

The only way to determine the level of lead in drinking water at your home is to have the water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Andover residents can have their water tested for lead by contacting Water Treatment Plant lab personnel at 978-623-8870 or by email at dpw-treatment@andoverma.us. Homes that are known to have a lead service line can have their water tested at the state-certified treatment plant laboratory free of charge. If your home is not known to have lead components, treatment plant staff will help with the coordination of analysis at another state-certified laboratory. The cost of a test is usually between $10 and $50. Consider having your paint tested also. A list of labs is available online or you can call MassDEP at 978-682-5237 or e-mail Labcert@state.ma.us. You can also view our document, Certified Laboratories for Homeowner Testing

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water

Listed below are steps that you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water:

  • Run your water to flush out lead - Freshwater is better than stale: If your water has been sitting for several hours, run the water until it is consistently cold – this usually takes about 15-30 seconds – before drinking or cooking with it. This flushes water which may contain lead from pipes. Run water for 5 minutes if you have a lead service line or any lead pipes in your home plumbing.
  • Use cold, freshwater for cooking and preparing baby formula: Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
  • Do not boil your water to remove lead or copper. Boiling water will not reduce lead. Excessive boiling of water makes the lead and copper more concentrated – the lead and copper remains when the water evaporates.
  • Other steps to reduce lead can be taken such as replacing plumbing containing lead or installing a filter that reduces lead. Even faucets labeled as “lead-free” may contain lead.
  • Consider having your lead service line replaced if it contains lead.
  • It is also suggested that parents have their child’s blood tested for lead through their health care provider.

Other Information and Links

Information on potential sources of lead in your home 

Information on how to identify if your tap or faucet is lead-free 

Information on point of use filters for reducing lead

For More Information

Call us at (978) 623-8703 or email leadservices@andoverma.us to find out if your home has a lead service line and for more information on how to remove it.  

For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead, visit:

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