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Remediation Efforts for Elevated Lead

Solutions to reduce the risk of lead in drinking water typically is addressed on both a short-term and a long-term basis. Short term measures can be taken until a permanent solution has been put in place. The goal is to remove as much lead in the plumbing system as possible.

Immediate Response (within 24 hours)

drinking fountain with black bag over it, indicating it is not in use

1. Shut Off Problem Fixtures

If initial sample results from a fixture exceed 5 ppb, the fixture should be taken out of service for consumption until the problem is resolved. A faucet may be used for hand washing or cleaning purposes if a “no drinking or food preparation” sign is posted.

drinking fountain with sign stating, "TEMPORARILY OUT OF SERVICE"

Care must be taken to ensure the fixture has been “taken out of service”. Physically remove handles or fixtures, turn off valves behind walls or under a locked cabinet, or securely bag the device to prevent use until it can be addressed. Do not return the fixture to service until corrective actions are taken and resampling indicates no exceedance.

2. Share the Test Results

Post test results in your facility (e.g., in the administrative offices and a highly visible bulletin board), and on a public website. Notify staff, parents, and students of test results and actions you are taking. Also, reach out to the public water system and EGLE to share results and discuss potential remediation measures.

cartoon water drop with sign saying, "Do Not Drink from this Sink" and "Hand washing only".

3. Post "Not for Drinking/Cooking" at Problem Fixtures

If initial sample results from a fixture exceed 5 ppb but the problem fixture is routinely used for purposes other than human ingestion (e.g., hand-washing), clear signage can be posted to notify people that the fixture is not to be used for drinking or cooking until the problem is resolved.

Short-Term Control Measures

Below are short-term measures facilities can take as they consider long-term or permanent control measures. Make sure it is clear to parents and staff that that these are temporary actions until you can take a permanent action to reduce/remove the source of lead in drinking water.

bottle fill station

1. Provide Filters at Problem Fixtures

Use filters specifically certified for lead reduction. To select a lead-reducing filter, check with the manufacturer or a third-party website (such as NSF or WQA) to verify the product was tested and certified against NSF/ANSI Standard 53 (for lead removal). For additional protection for particulate lead, look for a filter that is also certified against NSF/ANSI Standard 42 (for class I particulate reduction, 0.5 μm to <1 μm).

2. Provide Bottled Water

Use on a temporary basis. Make sure the bottled water is from an EPA or EGLE approved source.

water drop with sign stating "Let the water run for 30 seconds" and "Before you drink it!"

3. Flush Fixtures Prior to Use

Refer to the EGLE created guidance documents for system flushing and for individual fixture flushing. See the EPA’s 3Ts Flushing Best Practices factsheet for additional information on fixture flushing instructions.

Permanent Control Measures

  • Use of lead reducing filters
  • Institutional control of drinking water locations
  • Routine maintenance & flushing practices
  • Replacement of problem fixtures
  • Replacement of pipes & valves

sink tap running water

Dedicated Bottle Fill Drinking Water Stations

Touchless, filtered, water bottle filling stations can be an effective strategy for providing hands free drinking water while reducing lead from drinking water. With the challenging nature of school building use, many schools rely on the touchless filling stations to limit contact surfaces and provide good quality healthy drinking water.

“Institutional control of drinking water locations” means directing all building users to these stations by:

  • Limiting the number of fixtures used for drinking
  • Posting “hand wash only” or “not for drinking” signs at all non-drinking fixtures
  • Installing filtered bottle-fill drinking fountain units (at least 1 per 100 students)
  • Installing POU lead reduction filters if needed on drinking water faucets and food preparation fixtures
  • Providing education to promote drinking water locations and access to healthy water
water bottle fill station

Don’t forget to:

  • Set up a maintenance schedule for POU filter cartridges
  • Make sure the signage remains in place at non-consumption fixtures
  • Conduct annual sampling to ensure there is no risk of lead in the drinking water
sink with sampling materials