The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC), Fort Greely Garrison, and Doyon Utilities are concerned about lead in your drinking water. Doyon Utilities found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes/buildings. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Please read this information closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.
Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes in the community have had lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), or 0.015 milligrams per liter of water (mg/L). Under Federal law Doyon Utilities is required to have a program in place to minimize lead in your drinking water.
Health Effects of Lead
Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.
What is Lead?
Lead is a common metal found throughout the environment in lead-based paint, air, soil, household dust, water, and food or liquids stored in lead crystal or lead-glazed pottery or porcelain.
Lead in Drinking Water?
Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can increase a person’s total lead exposure, particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formulas and concentrated juices that are mixed with water.
How Lead enters our Drinking Water?
Unlike most drinking water contaminants, lead is unusual 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 household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder previously used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome-plated brass faucets. 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%.
When water stands in 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 increased levels of lead.
It is important to note that DU’s water treatment process does not increase the lead levels in the treated water. Any increases in the lead levels are generally from water service lines and older plumbing fixtures within the buildings.
Doyon Utilities identified 15 kitchen faucets at FGA where lead testing measured higher than the 15 ppb action level and DU began a faucet replacement pilot program in 2011. The 15 replaced faucets are being sampled to investigate how lead concentrations have changed; current results indicate a de- crease in lead levels below the action level. Additional sampling will be conducted through 2013.
TO AVOID LEAD IN DRINKING WATER TAKE THE FOLLOWING PRECAUTIONS: FLUSH YOUR SYSTEM Flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your family’s health. To flush, 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 your home’s plumbing, the more lead it may contain. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet until the water gets noticeably colder. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of your home’s plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking.
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 dishes or water plants.
All housing units and common areas have been fitted with faucet -mounted filters. Doyon Utilities and the Garrison encourage use of filtered water for consumption. Replacement filters will be available at self-help. The filters are designed to last for 6 months and meet the ANSO/NSF standard for lead removal (Standard 53).
USE ONLY COLD WATER FOR COOKING AND DRINKING
Try not to cook with, or drink water from the hot water tap. Never use the hot water tap for water to mix infant formula or for cooking. Hot water can dissolve lead more quickly than cold water. If you need hot water for drinking or cooking, draw water from the cold tap and heat it on the stove. Boiling water will not reduce the lead level.
For More Information
For more information, call Doyon Utilities at 869-3600 For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home or building and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s Web site at http://www.epa.gov/lead or contact your health care provider.
Your family doctor or pediatrician can provide you with information about the health effects of lead.
You can also receive information about lead in drinking water from the following:
Lead in Drinking Water Web Site: www.epa.gov/safewater/lead National Lead Information Center: 1(800)-424-LEAD
Garrison Public Affairs Office
Fort Greely, Alaska