Lead & Household Water

View this information as an interactive presentation

Why is lead a problem?

Lead is a common metal that is found in the air, soil, household dust, and water. It is also found in consumer products, some types of food, pottery, pewter and lead-based paint. If inhaled or swallowed, lead can build up in the body. If too much lead enters the body, it can damage the brain, nervous system, red blood cells, and kidneys.

Why test for lead?

The testing is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of the federal Safe Drinking Water program. Saint Paul Regional Water Services tests our water for lead.

How does lead get into household water?

The most likely sources of lead in your household water are lead pipes, lead solder, or brass fixtures in your plumbing. Lead water services were installed in Saint Paul homes built before 1926 and in some homes built during World War II. Usually, lead gets into your water after it leaves your local treatment plant.

Why are infants, children, and pregnant women at greater risk?

Smaller bodies absorb lead more rapidly. Children come into contact with other possible sources of lead, such as dust and dirt, more easily when they play. Lead in drinking water can be a special problem for infants, whose diets may consist mostly of liquids mixed with water. Because infants are so vulnerable to the effects of lead, pregnant women also should be concerned about the levels of lead in their water.

How can I tell if my water has too much lead?

If you are a customer of Saint Paul Regional Water Services, we will test your water for lead for free. Please contact customer service at 651-266-6350 for more information.

You can have your household water tested by a private laboratory if you live outside our service area. Contact the Minnesota Department of Health for a list of certified laboratories.

What is Saint Paul Regional Water Services doing about lead?

Saint Paul Regional Water Services takes a number of steps to address lead content in the water, including:

  • Testing the source water from rivers, lakes, and wells
  • Treating water in the system to reduce the amount of lead absorbed from plumbing
  • Replacing lead service lines, as needed

What can I do to reduce the lead in my water?

  • Let it Run!
  • Don't drink or cook with water that has collected in your plumbing for more than six hours
  • Clear the water lines by running cold water for three to five minutes
  • Run the water before you drink from any faucet in the house
  • Because hot water dissolves lead more quickly, don't cook with or drink hot water directly from the faucet
  • Do not use hot tap water for making baby formula

More information on lead in drinking water

Printable Brochure on Lead in Drinking Water (PDF)