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Health Information

The following is information from the State Health Department on lead in drinking water. Further details can be found at https://doh.sd.gov.

How does lead get into drinking water?

Lead may work its way into drinking water after the water enters the distribution system and is on its way to consumer’s taps. This usually happens through the corrosion of materials containing lead in household plumbing. These materials include brass faucets, lead solder on copper pipes, lead pipes or lead service lines connecting the water main to the indoor plumbing. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. The best way to know your risk of exposure to lead in drinking water is to identify the potential sources of lead in your service line and household plumbing. Taking action to get your water tested will help you reduce the exposure and improve health outcomes. Lead is harmful to heath, especially for children.

EPA banned the use of solder used to in copper plumbing in June of 1986.  In January 2014, EPA enacted their Lead Free Act banning the use of lead in all plumbing fixtures and service lines used to deliver potable drinking water.  If your residence was built after either of these dates, the risk of lead exposure from your household plumbing is reduced.

In South Dakota and nationally, there are efforts to determine whether lead was used in the service line to your home.

What can I do to reduce my exposure to lead in drinking water?

Since lead exposure in drinking water typically comes from your plumbing fixtures and not the source of your water supply, unless you know your service line and plumbing fixtures are lead-free, it's important for both public drinking water customers as well as private well water users to follow these tips to reduce your exposure to lead.

  • Run your water to flush out lead. If water hasn't been used for several hours, run water for 15-30 seconds or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes out any stagnant water in your home plumbing and replaces it with fresh water from the water main in your street.

  • Use cold water 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 water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.

  • Test your water for lead. Contact your water system for more information about getting your water tested or to request sample bottles for testing of water supplies, from the South Dakota Public Health Laboratory, please complete and submit this form Public Water Supply Testing - SD Dept. of Health. Fee information for the various tests is also provided. Questions can be directed to the Lab's mail room at 605-773-3368.

What are the health effects of exposures to lead in drinking water?

EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels. The maximum contaminant level is a goal, but the action level for EPA is 15 parts of lead per billion parts of water (ppb) for public water systems. At 15 ppb or greater, a public water system must take action to reduce the amount of lead in the water distributed to the customer.

 

Young children, infants and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. Even low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.

For more information on lead in drinking water, please visit:
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