Get the Facts
- Lead poisoning occurs when lead enters the bloodstream and builds up to toxic levels. Many different factors such as the source of exposure, length of exposure, and underlying susceptibility (e.g., child’s age, nutritional status, and genetics) affect how the body handles foreign substances.
- Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. Lead from paint, paint chips, and dust can pose serious health hazards particularly to children and pregnant women.
- Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by:
- Breathing in lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs, or painting);
- Swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, and other places; or
- Eating paint chips or soil that contains lead.
- The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes and brass faucets and fixtures that contain lead.
- Other sources of lead include some metal toys, wooden toys or furniture painted with lead-based paint, some metal-containing jewelry, and lead-glazed pottery or porcelain, some candies, spices or make-up.
- Lead may also be brought into the home on work clothes, shoes, and hair.
Get Your Home Tested
- If your home was built before 1978, you can get it tested for lead-based paint by:
- A lead-based paint inspection that tells you if your home has lead-based paint and where it is located.
- A lead risk assessment that tells you if your home currently has any lead hazards from paint, dust, or soil, and where they are located.
- A combination inspection and risk assessment that tells you if your home has any lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards and where they are located.
- Contact your local health department or RSA office to find out about testing your water.
Get your Child Tested
- Act early to get your child tested for lead.
- Children’s blood lead levels tend to increase from 6 to 12 months of age and tend to peak at 18 to 24 months of age.
- A simple blood test can detect lead. Consult your healthcare provider for advice on blood lead testing.
- Blood lead tests are usually recommended for:
- Children at ages 12 and 24 months who receive Medicaid;
- Children at ages 12 and 24 months living in high risk areas or high risk populations;
- Children or other family members who have been exposed to high levels of lead; and
- Children who should be tested under your state or local health screening plan.
- Ask your healthcare provider to explain the blood lead test results.
Your Drinking Water
- Water that passes through your RSA water meter does not contain detectable levels of lead.
- Lead can leach from various household plumbing components such as:
- lead pipes
- lead-containing brass or bronze fittings
- lead-containing faucets or other fixtures
- galvanized steel pipes manufactured prior to 1960
- copper pipes with lead solder installed prior to 1986
- Most lead-containing plumbing components were banned through amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1986.
- RSA's corrosion control strategies are approved by the Virginia Department of Health, and are reviewed periodically to ensure we are minimizing corrosion of household plumbing and leaching of lead. RSA performs routine monitoring of various water quality parameters that are linked to corrosivity of water.
Get the Lead Out
If you are concerned about lead in your drinking water:
- Install lead-free plumbing fixtures, including faucets, pipes, valves, and fittings. Homes built prior to 1986 may contain lead components. Ensure that you use components certified “lead free.” This means they contain less than 0.25% lead across wetted surfaces of pipes, fittings, or fixtures and less than 0.2% lead for solder and flux. Keep in mind that products advertised as "lead-free" prior to 2014 were not held to the current, more stringent standard. Also, brass plumbing products sold prior to 2014 may contain higher levels of lead.
- Flush your cold water tap for at least two minutes before using water for drinking or cooking. This will bring fresh water into your home from RSA's lead-free distribution lines.
- Filter water used for cooking or drinking with a filter certified to meet NSF Standard 53.
- Use the cold water tap for cooking and preparing baby formula. Lead may accumulate in your hot water heater. Boiling water does not remove lead.
- Clean faucet aerators every three months. Particles and sediment may build up in faucet aerators, increasing lead concentrations in the water passing through.