Lead Alerts and Public Service Announcements

EPA Mandatory Language for Lead Alerts |
Sample Alert
| Sample Cover Letter for Schools |
Sample Public Service Announcement for TV/Radio | CCR Mandatory Language


EPA MANDATORY LANGUAGE FOR ALL SYSTEMS

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the ( insert name of School, Water System, Business,or Mobile Home Park ) , are concerned about lead in your drinking water. Although most homes and buildings have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some (homes in this community, or taps in this building) have lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mg/l). Under Federal law we are required to have a program in place to minimize lead in your drinking water by December 31, 1997. This program includes corrosion control treatment, source water treatment, and public education. We are also required to replace each lead service line that we control if the line contributes lead concentrations of more than 15 ppb after we have completed the comprehensive treatment program. If you have any questions about how we are carrying out the requirements of the lead regulation please contact the above water system at ( insert phone number ) . This material explains the simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by reducing your exposure to lead in drinking water.

HEALTH EFFECTS OF LEAD

Lead is a common metal found throughout the environmental in lead-based paint, air, soil, household dust, food, certain types of pottery, porcelain, and pewter, and water. Lead can pose a significant risk to your health if too much of it enters your body. Lead builds up in the body over many years and can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells and kidneys. The greatest risk is to young children (under age 6) and pregnant women and their fetuses. Amounts of lead that won't hurt adults can slow down normal mental and physical development of growing bodies. In addition, a child at play often comes into contact with sources of lead contamination --- like dirt and dust --- that rarely affect an adult. If a child puts dirty fingers into his or her mouth (as most children do) some lead may be absorbed into the child's system. It is important to wash children's hands and toys often, and to try to make sure they only put food into their mouths.

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE IN THE HOME OR WORK FACILITY TO REDUCE YOUR EXPOSURE TO LEAD IN DRINKING WATER

i. Despite our best efforts mentioned earlier to control water corrosivity and remove lead from the water supply, lead levels in some taps can be high. You may wish to find out whether you need to take action in your own home by having your drinking water tested to determine if it contains excessive concentrations of lead. Testing the water is essential because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. Some local laboratories that can provide this service are listed at the end of this material.

ii. If a water test indicates that the drinking water drawn from a tap in your home contains lead above 15 ppb, or 0.015 mg/L, then you should take the following precautions:

    (A) Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in a faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer water resides in the plumbing the more lead it may contain. Before drinking, flush the tap by running the cold water faucet until the water gets noticeable colder, usually about 15-30 seconds or longer, perhaps one minute, in the case of long service lines or if there is a lead service line to the water main. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of the plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking. Flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your health. It usually uses less than one or two gallons of water and costs very little. If you wish to conserve water, fill a couple of bottles for drinking water after flushing the tap, and whenever possible use the first flush water to wash the dishes or water the plants. If you live in a high-rise building, letting the water flow before using it may not lessen your risk from lead. this is because high rise plumbing systems have more, and sometimes larger, pipes than smaller buildings. Ask your landlord for help in locating the source of the lead and for advice on reducing the lead level

    (B) Try not to cook with, or drink water from the hot water tap. Hot water can dissolve more lead and other metals more quickly than cold water. If you need hot water, draw water from the cold tap and heat it on the stove.

    (C) Remove loose lead solder and debris from the plumbing materials installed in newly constructed homes and buildings, or homes and buildings in which the plumbing has recently been replaced. To do this, remove the faucet strainers from all taps and running water from 3 to 5 minutes. Thereafter, periodically remove the strainers and flush out any debris that has accumulated over time.

    (D) If your copper pipes are joined with lead solder that has been installed illegally since it was banned in 1986, notify the plumber who did the work and request that he or she replace the lead solder with lead-free solder. Lead solder looks dull gray, and when scratched with a key looks shiny. In addition, notify the Division of Health Engineering, ME Dept. of Human Services about the violation.

    (E) Determine whether or not the service line that connects your home, apartment or building to the water main is made of lead. The best way to determine if your service line is made of lead is by hiring a licensed plumber to inspect the line or by contacting the plumbing contractor who installed the line or if a larger public water system delivers water to your home, they should also maintain records of the materials located in the distribution system. You can identify the plumbing contractor by checking the building permits recorded in your city or town. A licensed plumber can at the same time check to see if your home's or building's plumbing contains lead solder, lead pipes, or pipe fittings that contain lead. If the service line connects your dwelling or building to the water supply contributes more than 15 ppb to drinking water, after a comprehensive treatment program is in place, then replacement of that line is required with appropriate follow-up tap water sampling. Acceptable replacement alternatives include copper, steel , iron, and plastic pipe.

    (F) Have an electrician check your wiring. If grounding wires from the electrical system are attached to your pipes, corrosion may be greater. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electrical code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. DO NOT attempt to change the wiring yourself because improper grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.

iii. The steps described above will reduce the lead concentrations in your drinking water. However, if a water test indicates that the drinking water coming from your tap contains lead concentrations in excess of 15 ppb after flushing, or after we have completed our actions to minimize lead levels, then you may want to take the following additional measures:

    (A) Purchase or lease a transaction device. Home treatment devices are limited in that each unit treats only the water that flows from the faucet to which it is connected, and all of the devices require periodic maintenance and replacement. Devices such as reverse osmosis systems or distillers can effectively remove lead from your drinking water. Some activated carbon filters may reduce lead levels at the tap, however all lead reduction claims should be investigated. Be sure to check the actual performance of a specific home treatment device before and after installing the unit.

    (B) Purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking.

iv. You can consult a variety of source for additional information:

    (A) Your family doctor or pediatrician can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health affects of lead.

    (B) The Division of Health Engineering within the Maine Department of Human Services at (207)287-2070 can provide you with information about your community's water supply, and a list of local laboratories that have been certified by the Health Department for testing water quality.

    (C) Your local town office can provide you with information about building permit records that should contain the names of plumbing contractors that plumbed your home.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: LEAD IN DRINKING WATER

i. Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can significantly increase a person's total lead exposure, particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formulas and concentrated juices that are mixed with water. The EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person's total exposure to lead.

ii. Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect your house to the watermain (service lines). In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2% lead, and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials to 8.0%. iii. When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water. This means the first water drawn from the tap in the morning, or later in the afternoon after returning from work or school, can contain fairly high levels of lead.

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SAMPLE ALERT

SOME HOMES IN THIS COMMUNITY HAVE ELEVATED LEAD LEVELS IN THEIR DRINKING WATER. LEAD CAN POSE A SIGNIFICANT RISK TO YOUR HEALTH. PLEASE READ THE ENCLOSED NOTICE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

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SAMPLE COVER LETTER FOR SCHOOLS

(Developed by the Exeter, West Greenwich, RI Consolidate School District)

To the Students, Families and Staff of: (insert school name) .

Our school administration has recently learned that samples from some water taps, (taken after water was left in the system for a minimum holding time of six hours), at our school had lead levels that failed Environmental Protection Agency action level. The administration takes these results seriously and is moving immediately to safeguard the health of the students, faculty and staff. You should also note that these results are not uncommon and may well exist in your own home. The following information describes steps we are taking that can also be taken at home to address the issue of lead and copper in the water.

WHAT WE ARE REQUIRED TO DO:

1. Implement a public information process that includes distribution of the enclosed required material.

2. Submit an evaluation and treatment recommendation to the Drinking Water Program.

3. Provide certification that state-approved treatment has been installed

WHAT WE HAVE DONE ALREADY:

1. Immediately implemented a flushing and water usage plan to safeguard against lead exposure in school. This includes the daily flushing of water fountains and sinks and the limitation of water consumption to cold water faucets.

2. Conducted follow-up water testing so that a treatment plan can be developed, approved, and implemented.

3. Provided this public education information, including a brief paragraph on where lead is found in drinking water.

WHAT WE WILL BE DOING:

1. The school administration will develop and put into place a treatment plan as quickly as possible and will conduct follow-up tests that will characterize the corrosivity, or aggressiveness of our water.

2. Through periodic reports, keep you informed as to the progress of our efforts. These reports will serve to let you know what has been done and what is being done to safeguard against lead exposure at school.

A REMINDER: The water system at school is not unlike those found in area homes. Please read the enclosed material and consider having your own water tested.

Sincerely,

 

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SAMPLE PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR
TELEVISION AND RADIO
(EPA MANDATORY LANGUAGE)


Why should everyone want to know the facts about lead and drinking water? Because unhealthy amounts of lead can enter drinking water through the plumbing in your home. That's why I urge you to do what I did. I had my water tested for (insert, free or $ per sample - the standard cost for most labs is $20 per sample). You can contact the (name of town, city or water system) for information on testing and on simple ways to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.

To have your water tested for lead, or to get more information about this public health concern, please call (insert number of town, city or water system).

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CCR Language for Lead and Copper Rule
(EPA MANDATORY LANGUAGE)

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. [NAME OF UTILITY] is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline or at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.