Did you know that all Minnesota community water systems are required to provide drinking water that meets the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) federal standards? According to the Minnesota Department of Health, “Approximately 80 percent of Minnesota residents get water from community water systems (CWS), and about 20 percent have private wells.”
Most natural waters contain impurities that are harmless but, unfortunately, as we found in a number of cities like Flint, Michigan, drinking water can contain natural or man-made impurities including certain levels of micro-organisms, minerals, chemicals, or naturally occurring contaminants that can be harmful to your health. In fact, more than 100 contaminants can cause concern for people’s health such as bacteria, nitrates, pesticides, solvents, and metals like copper and lead. Our drinking water has become a national focus after the tragedy in Flint where high levels of lead were found to be poisoning children. There’s no safe level of lead and there is no cure for lead poisoning.
You may come in contact with lead in your drinking water as it travels from its source and in through your plumbing system. The Minnesota Department of Health states several practices you can do to minimize your risk of lead exposure:
In Your Home
- Let the water run for at least 30-60 seconds before using it for drinking or cooking if the water has not been turned on in over six hours. This is especially true in the morning or whenever you’ve been away from your house for six hours.
- Use cold water for drinking, making food, and making baby formula. Hot water releases more lead from pipes than cold water.
- Test your water. In most cases, letting the water run and using cold water for drinking and cooking should keep lead levels low in the water you drink. Testing your water is important if young children or pregnant women drink from your water tap.
- To get your water tested, contact a MN Dept. of Health accredited laboratory at https://apps.health.state.mn.us/eldo/public/accreditedlabs/labsearch.seam.
- Treat your water if a test shows your water has high levels of lead after the water runs.
- Consult the Point-of-Use Water Treatment Unit for Lead Reduction fact sheet at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/water/factsheet/com/poulead.html.
- If you have a private well lead is not usually found in your well but it can enter your drinking water as it travels through your plumbing system. Visit Lead in Water Systems at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/lead.html. Remember that you are responsible for keeping your well water safe and testing it as needed.
- Save water by fixing leaky faucets, running full loads of laundry or dishes, and taking shorter showers.
- Use soaps, lotions, and detergents that are biodegradable and less toxic.
- Don’t flush leftover medicines, paints, oils, or antifreeze down the sink or toilet. Look for safe ways to dispose of them.
- Use water-saving appliances. Look for the “WaterSense” label and install low-flow showerheads and toilets.
In Your Yard
- Landscape your yard to reduce the need for watering and prevent or filter runoff.
- Minimize your use of fertilizers and pesticides.
- Clean up chemical spills immediately and store chemicals safely away from wells, lakes, rivers, streams, and stormwater drains.
- Use a licensed well contractor to seal unused wells.
- Maintain your sewage treatment system, including periodic inspections.
Lead occurs naturally and has been used in many products around the world – going all the way back to at least the Roman Empire. Lead is known to cause long-term health and behavioral problems. In Minnesota you can be exposed to lead through lead-based paint in homes built before 1978. Safe drinking water is essential to our lives and we must be vigilant in our protection of our 10,000 lakes and our countless rivers and streams.
Get the Statistics from the Experts & Share Your Experience with Us
Do you or your child have experience with lead poisoning? If so, we’d like to hear your story and learn how you dealt with living with lead poisoning. Or, if you have questions about lead poisoning, we’d like to provide you with accurate information. Contact us here!