You have probably heard reports about lead being found in drinking water over the past few weeks. Lead is a metal. You can’t see, smell or taste lead, but it can be harmful to everyone, especially pregnant women and young children. You and your child can come in contact with lead by breathing it in from dust in the air, swallowing it in dust or dirt, or drinking it in water from pipes that are made of lead.
Here is some important information about lead:
High lead levels in the blood of pregnant women is associated with increased rates of preterm birth and other problems in their babies. Exposure to lead is more dangerous to children than to adults. About half a million to 1 million children in the United States have high levels of lead in their blood.
If you think your child has been exposed to lead from the water at home, tell your child’s health care provider. She can check your child’s blood for lead.
If you’re renting a home and are concerned about lead, talk to your landlord. He’s responsible for making repairs safely. If you need help talking to your landlord about lead, contact your local health department.
If you have lead pipes in your house or if you have well water, lead may get into your drinking water. Boiling water does not get rid of lead. If you think you have lead in your water:
- Use bottled or filtered water for cooking, drinking and mixing baby formula.
- If you’re using tap water, use cold water from your faucet for drinking and cooking. Water from the cold-water pipe has less lead and other harmful substances than water from the hot-water pipes.
- Run water from each tap before drinking it or using it for cooking, especially if you haven’t run the water for a few hours. If the faucet hasn’t been used for 6 hours, run the water until you feel its temperature change.
- Contact your local health department or water department to find out how to get pipes tested for lead. If you use well water, contact the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at (800) 426-4791 for information on testing your well water and household for lead and other substances that can harm your health.
Our website has a lot more information about possible sources of lead and how you can minimize contact. If you have any concerns about lead exposure to lead, make sure you talk to your health care provider.
Have questions? Email us at AskUs@marchofdimes.org.