Town of Berthoud press release – Important information about lead in your drinking water

town of Berthoud logoContact: Stephanie Brothers, P.E., Public Works Director, Town of Berthoud, sbrothers@berthoud.org, 970.532.2643.

Important information about lead in your drinking water

Our system found elevated levels of lead in the 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.

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.

Sources of Lead

Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure. The main sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil, and some plumbing materials. In addition, lead can be found in certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, food, and cosmetics. Other sources include exposure in the work place and exposure from certain hobbies (lead can be carried on clothing or shoes).

New brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free”, may contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, with up to eight percent lead to be labeled as “lead free”. However, plumbing fixtures labeled National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified may only have up two percent lead. Consumers should be aware of this when choosing fixtures and take appropriate precautions.

When water is in contact with pipes or plumbing that contains lead for several hours, the lead may enter drinking water. Homes built between 1982 and 1986 are more likely to have plumbing containing lead. New homes may also have lead; even “lead-free” plumbing may contain some lead. EPA estimates that 10 to 20 percent of a person’s potential exposure to lead may come from drinking water. Infants who consume mostly formula mixed with the lead-containing water can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.

Don’t forget about other sources of lead such as lead paint, lead dust, and lead in soil. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come into contact with dirt and dust containing lead.

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Exposure to Lead in Your Water

  1. Run your water to flush out lead. If it hasn’t been used for several hours, run the cold water tap until the temperature is noticeably colder. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes. To conserve water, remember to catch the flushed tap water for plants or some other household use (e.g., cleaning).
  1. Always use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Never cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Never use water from the hot water tap to make formula.
  1. Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  1. Periodically remove and clean the faucet’s strainer/aerator. While removed, run the water to remove debris.
  1. You may consider investing in a home water treatment device or alternative water source.

When purchasing a water treatment device, make sure it is certified under Standard 53 by NSF International to remove lead. Contact NSF at 1-800-NSF-8010, or visit the Water Quality Association’s website at www.wqa.org.

  1. Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. Brass faucets, fittings and valves, including those advertised as “lead- free,” may leach lead into drinking water. The NSF website at www.nsf.org has more information on lead-containing plumbing fixtures. You should use only lead- certified contractors.
  1. Have a licensed 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 electric 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.
  1. Parents should consult with a medical professional for advice about whether to have their child’s blood tested for lead.

What happened & What is being done

Five (5) out of 40 samples recently analyzed for lead and copper within the Town of Berthoud’s drinking water distribution system resulted in elevated levels of lead.  Currently, and in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (the “Department”),  the Town is in the process of developing a corrosion control treatment program that will be implemented in the near future that should aide in alleviating the problem. The Town submitted a corrosion control treatment plan which was approved by the Department.  The Town has also submitted to the Department their construction application for the approved treatment.  Once the application is approved the Town will move forward with installation of the corrosion control treatment.    In addition, the Town is currently working on revising its lead and copper sampling site pool.  We are also in the process of updating the Town’s material survey in order to insure that sampling is being performed at the highest risk sites, which is required by the lead and copper rule.  Further, in an effort to accomplish this task, the Town’s staff is sending out letters to approximately 260 homes that were built between 1982 and 1986 to see if they would be interested in volunteering to be part of this sampling pool. The Town is required to collect 40 samples every six months however, it is desirable to have more sites than required in case a homeowner is gone during sampling time as well as to check as many different houses as possible to make sure the corrosion control is working.

If you wish to be reviewed for participation in the Town’s identified list of sampling sites, please contact the Town’s Water Department at 970-532-2393.  If your home does not meet the criteria for the official sampling pool (highest risk site) and you still desire to have your home or business tested for these contaminants at your own expense, some suggested laboratories that are close by are listed below; you may also use a laboratory of your choosing.

Resources: Water Testing Laboratories

Colorado Analytical

240 South Main Street

Brighton, CO. 80601-0507

Phone: 303-659-2313

ACCUTEST Laboratories

4036 Youngfield Street

Wheat Ridge, CO. 80033-3862

Phone: 303-426-6021

For more information call us at: 970-532-2393or visit our Web site at: www.berthoud.org. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s Web site at http://www.epa.gov/lead or contact your health care provider.

Notice Provided by: TOWN OF BERTHOUD

Date: June 1, 2016