Frequently Asked Questions
Why does Well Aware test for lead?
Lead (Pb) is a toxic metal with no safe level of exposure. Even low levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially in children, pregnant people, and the elderly. Some of these health problems include:
Brain and nervous system damage, especially in children
Slowed growth and development of children
Learning and behavior problems in children
Because lead can cause serious health problems, even in low doses over long periods of time, it's important to reduce how much is in your water as much as possible.
How does lead get into my water?
Most lead in well water comes from the corrosion of metal parts in the well, pipes, or household plumbing. In older homes, pipes and plumbing often contain lead that can leach into the water that you drink. Corrosive water is more likely to leach lead from plumbing. In rare cases, lead can also contaminate well water from natural or industrial sources.
Can I shower in water with lead in it?
Yes – the body does not absorb lead through the skin
If the EPA set the action level at 15ppb, but my level is lower, does that mean I don’t need to do anything?
The EPA action level of 15ppb is set to give a regulatory cutoff for water service providers, however exposure to lead at levels below 15ppb can still cause many negative health effects. This is especially true if you’re exposed to lead over a long period of time. The EPA goal for lead is 0ppb, and this is the only safe level of lead. If you cannot achieve this goal that is okay, but levels of lead that are high may be worth addressing, even if they are below 15ppb.
Do I need a filter?
Most well users do not need a filter to keep lead below US and state guideline levels in their drinking water. The precautionary steps below may be sufficient. If you are concerned that your water elevated lead levels, contact your health department for additional testing, information, and recommendations. Even if lead levels are below these guidelines, some people may choose to use a filter or filtration system. It is entirely up to you to decide if a filter is a good choice for your water. However, if you do choose a filter for lead removal, be sure to choose one that works.
Do all filters remove lead?
Some types of filters remove lead effectively and others do not. Activated carbon and reverse osmosis filters generally remove lead. Water softeners, particle filters, and sand filters generally do not. Most filter cartridges and systems indicate whether they are rated for lead reduction on the packaging – look for an NSF/ANSI Standard 53 certification. However, you may wish to consult your local health department before purchasing any filtration product or system. There are many types of products and systems that do not remove lead effectively (or at all), and your health department may be able to help you if you want a filter system and need help identifying one that removes lead.
What precautionary steps can I take to reduce my exposure to lead?
There are several simple options to reduce lead levels in your water. These are not a substitute for contacting your health department, especially if you find high lead levels, but they can help reduce lead in your water in addition to any other actions that a health official may recommend