By: Jazz Vakhshoorzadeh
This is the fifth feature in our Water Wednesday blog series. Check back every other Wednesday over the coming weeks to learn more about how Boston has some of the best tap water in the country. Want to talk water? Tweet us @HealthyBoston #LoveThatBostonWater.
Happy Water Wednesday, Boston! Today, we will be addressing some common misconceptions about lead in tap water.
Should I be concerned about lead in my tap water?
NO. Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water is lead-free when it leaves the reservoir, and travels across the state in lead-free distribution pipes. All Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) water mains within Boston are lead-free.
Since 1986, all house and building pipes are also required by law to be lead-free. However, older Boston houses and buildings may have lead pipes, lead solder, or brass faucets with lead. Thus, to reduce possible corrosion, MWRA adjusts the chemistry of the water to make it less corrosive. This adjustment makes the water less likely to leach lead from any older pipes/solder that may be in your building into the water.
MWRA and BWSC also monitor lead levels to assure the safety of the water by collecting tap water samples from older homes around the city that may still have some lead in the pipes or fixtures. These samples are tested for lead to ensure that they are below the required feder
al “Action Level” of 15 parts per billion (one part per billion is equal to one drop in a swimming pool). Since 2007, Boston tap water has met this rigorous standard.
If Boston tap water is safe to drink, why do I hear from others that I shouldn’t drink it?
Some people may not be aware of the significant improvements that have made Boston’s water safer and cleaner within the past 15 years. In 1996, MWRA began adjusting the chemistry of the water to make it less corrosive. Additionally, within the past ten years, the BWSC has replaced all city pipes to be lead-free pipes. Due to these changes, the level of lead in Boston tap water has dropped by more than 90%.
How can I flush out my pipes to make sure there is no lead in my tap water?
MWRA recommends that you run your water for a minute or until it feels cold to flush all of the standing water out of pipes before you drink or use it to avoid any lead contamination from the pipes in your building. Fresh water is always better than stale water.
Jazz is an intern at the Boston Public Health Commission.