Fort Wayne's water utility is committed to providing customers with the best possible water quality. Water leaving the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant meets, or is better than, all state and federal standards require. Sometimes when the water comes into contact with older lead pipes and plumbing fixtures between the public water main system and a building or inside a home or business, the lead level in the water can increase. Homes built before around 1950 may have lead pipes that connect the house with the water line. Also, before 1986, household plumbing regularly contained lead or used lead solder.
Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Lead
There are a number of things property owners can do to reduce their possible exposure to lead. Click here for tips for reducing lead in your home.
Information from IDEM
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 the child's brain development.
Sources of lead
Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning can significantly increase a person's total lead exposure, particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formula and concentrated juices that are mixed with water. The EPA estimates that drinking water can make up to 20 percent or more of a person's total exposure to lead.
Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome plated brass faucets, and in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect houses and buildings to water mains (service lines). In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 0.2 percent lead and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes, and other plumbing materials to 8.0 percent. A new federal law that went into effect in 2014 will reduce the amount of lead allowed in plumbing fixtures to 0.25 percent.
When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking water. This means the first water drawn from the tap in the morning, or later in the afternoon if the water has not been used all day, can contain fairly high levels of lead.
Steps you can take in the home (or anywhere else) to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water
Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer the water resides in the plumbing, the more lead it may contain. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet until the water gets noticeably colder, usually about 30 seconds. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of your home's plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking. Flushing tap water is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your health. It usually uses less than one or two gallons of water. To conserve water, fill a couple of bottles with water for drinking water after flushing the tap or draw water into a pitcher and place it in the refrigerator. Whenever possible, use the first flush water to wash dishes or water the plants.
Try not to cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Hot water can dissolve lead more quickly than cold water. If you need hot water, draw it from the cold tap and then heat it. Boiling water does not remove lead content and can concentrate it. In addition, do not mix baby formula with water from the hot water tap.
The steps described above will reduce the lead concentration in your drinking water. However, if you are still concerned, you may wish to purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking.
For more information, call the City of Fort Wayne at 311. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home or building and the health effects of lead, visit the EPA's website at http://www.epa.gov/lead or contact your health care provider who can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead. State and local government agencies that may be contacted include:
Fort Wayne's "One Call to City Hall" at 311 for more information about water supplied by the City of Fort Wayne.
Indiana State Department of Health at (317) 233-1250 or the Fort Wayne- Allen County Department of Health at (260) 449-8600 can provide you with information about the health effects of lead.
Customers can have their tap water tested by contacting a laboratory certified to test for lead in drinking water. A list of those laboratories is available online at www.in.gov/isdh/22452.htm.