Each year, National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) is a call to bring together individuals, organizations, industry, and state, tribal, and local governments to increase lead poisoning prevention awareness to reduce childhood exposure to lead. NLPPW highlights the many ways parents can reduce children’s exposure to lead in their environment and prevent its serious health effects. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our partners work to heighten awareness of lead poisoning, provide resources, and encourage preventive actions during NLPPW and beyond.

What is lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring element which is found abundantly throughout the earth. Over the years it has been used in a variety of products such as gasoline, paint, plumbing pipes, solders, and batteries. Lead has been found to be hazardous to one’s health.

Why is lead exposure hazardous?

Lead is a toxic metal that effects every one of the body’s organs. Lead poisoning can occur when lead builds up in the body over time with continued exposure. Low levels of lead can impair brain development in children. Higher levels of lead can cause damage to the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. Extremely high lead levels in the blood could cause seizures, unconsciousness, or even death.

How does lead get into drinking water?

Prior to the knowledge that exposure to lead was harmful, lead was used to manufacture service lines connecting public water systems to individual homes as well as plumbing and fixtures within homes. Although lead-bearing materials are no longer used for these purposes, older homes may still contain water pipes and fixtures that contain lead. If lead is present, water that has been sitting for an extended period of time in these pipes is more likely to contain higher levels of lead.

How can I find out if my drinking water contains lead?

The only way to know for sure if lead is present in your drinking water is to have your water tested. You can not see, smell, or taste lead in drinking water. Do It Yourself home kits are available but for the most accurate results a certified laboratory should be used.

Help spread the word about lead and National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW)! We invite you to join us in helping to mobilize individuals and communities to take action to reduce their risk of lead exposure. You can help eliminate lead and lead poisoning by testing the pipes in your home and encouraging family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. To learn more about how OCWA is helping you to test, visit our website at Lead – OCWA.