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Drinking Water

Five drinking water glasses being filled with varying amounts of drinking water
Department of Health and Human Services

Drinking Water

How am I exposed to lead in water?

Lead might get into your drinking water as your water flows through older service lines, plumbing, pipes, fixtures, and faucets that contain lead.

If there is lead in your drinking water, you and your loved ones may be exposed by using water for drinking, cooking, or for rinsing food. You may also be exposed by using the water to make powdered infant formula, and brushing your teeth.

Lead and drinking water

Lead water pipes can sometimes be found in older homes. Drinking water faucets manufactured before 2014 were allowed to contain up to 8 percent lead. This lead can sometimes find its way into our drinking water. Pick the right filter.

Lead found in drinking water is soluble or particulate. Soluble lead is lead that is dissolved in water. Particulate lead is small pieces of lead from lead-containing material. Either type of lead can get into your drinking water when pipes or faucets containing lead begin to break down or dissolve. The amount of lead that can end up in drinking water depends on:

  • Water chemistry (what is in the water).
  • Contact with lead-containing items (if it passes through lead plumbing or fixtures).
  • Water use (how often and in what amount water runs through plumbing and fixtures).
  • Construction or plumbing repairs in the street or home (particulate lead can be released).

Lead can also get into drinking water from:

  • Environmental contamination sites.
  • Natural sources in the environment.

Lead can also be found in well water or other ground water sources.

How can I protect myself from lead in water?

Flush your pipes before using your water. If you have not used your water for several hours, flushing your pipes may reduce the amount of soluble (dissolved) lead in your drinking water. To flush the pipes in your home, do any of the following for at least five minutes:

  • Turn a faucet on all the way.
  • Take a shower.
  • Run a load of laundry.
  • Run your dishwasher.

After flushing your home's water, run the water from individual faucets on cold for 1-2 minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking.

Using a filter can reduce lead in drinking water. Both particulate and soluble lead can be safely removed from drinking water by using a water filter certified to reduce lead in drinking water. Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction.  Follow the manufacturer's instructions to install the filter and maintain it. For help choosing a filter, use the EPA guidance tool.

Use cold filtered or flushed water. Use for drinking, cooking, or rinsing food; mixing powdered infant formula; and brushing your teeth. You can use water that is not filtered or flushed for showering or bathing (avoid swallowing the water); washing your hands, dishes, and clothes; and for cleaning. 

Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Boiling water that is not filtered or flushed will not remove lead, and it may actually increase the amount of lead in the water. This is because the lead does not boil down, but the amount of water does, which increases the concentration of lead left behind.

Clean your aerator. Aerators (the mesh screens on your sink faucet) can trap pieces of particulate lead. Clean your drinking water faucet aerator at least every 6 months. If there is construction or repairs to the public water system or pipes near your home, clean your drinking water faucet aerator every month until the work is done.

Replace plumbing, pipes, and faucets that may add lead into your drinking water. Older faucets, fittings, and valves sold before 2014 may contain up to 8 percent lead, even if marked "lead-free."  Replace faucets with products manufactured in 2014 or later and are certified to contain 0.25% lead or less.

Water system popular topics

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Water supply service line material inventories

Learn about service line material inventories.

Additional agency resources

  • All community and nontransient noncommunity water supplies are subject to Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) requirements. The LCR establishes action levels for lead and copper based on a 90th percentile level of tap samples. Water supplies must conduct tap monitoring and associated reporting to stay in compliance with the LCR. Visit our website for details regarding 2018 rule changes, reporting guidelines, forms, and templates.

  • All children need access to healthy water. Quality drinking water is critical to a child's overall health, development, and performance. Michigan children spend a significant portion of their day in school or childcare facilities. The School Drinking Water Program provides school personnel with training, guidance, and tools on school water management practices, sampling plans, and risk reduction.

  • Revisions to the LCR established the statewide Drinking Water Advisory Council, and individual Water System Advisory Councils to provide education about lead in drinking water to the state and local communities. The statewide council includes water industry professionals, public health professionals and members of the public. A local council must have five or more people, with at least one being a community resident.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Lead in drinking water; drinking water resources; and lead and drinking water from private wells

    Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE): Types of water supplies

    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Basic information about lead in drinking water