Lead is a toxic metal that is persistent in the environment and can accumulate in the body over time. Risk will vary depending on the individual, the amount of lead in an individual’s environment, and exposure. The risk from drinking water depends upon the chemical conditions of the water and the amount consumed. There has not been a safe blood level identified for young children, so all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated. The EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels.
OCWA’s source waters contain no detectable amount of lead. Any lead that is present at your tap comes from exposure to the pipes used to convey water into your home. This is why it is important to determine what kind of pipes are in your home.
OCWA customers get their water from one of three sources: Lake Ontario, Otisco Lake, or Skaneateles Lake. All three of these source waters are treated to minimize the leaching of lead from piping and fixtures. Waters from Otisco and Skaneateles Lakes add a corrosion inhibiter, Orthophosphate, to minimize lead from leaching. Lake Ontario water is treated with Caustic Soda, which also controls the ability of lead to leach from pipes.
If you think that you or a family member has been exposed to lead in water, contact your health care provider. Most children and adults who are exposed to lead have no symptoms. The best way to tell if someone has been exposed is with a blood lead test. Your health care provider can help you decide whether a blood lead test is needed and can recommend appropriate follow-up actions if you or your child has been exposed. As levels of lead in the blood increase, adverse effects from lead may also increase.
Where can I find more information about lead exposure and contamination?
The Safe Drinking Water Hotline http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead (1-800-426-4791)
Onondaga County Health Department
Oswego County Health Department https://www.health.ny.gov./prevention/public_health
Oneida County Health Department https://ocgov.net/health
Madison County Health Department https://www.madisoncounty.ny.gov
Cayuga County Health Department https://cayugacounty.us/153/health-department