Lead in Water

How Lead Gets Into Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water usually comes from water distribution lines or household plumbing rather than lakes, wells or streams. Lead from other sources, such as ingesting old-paint chips or dust, can contribute to the child's overall lead exposure. Learn about other sources of lead.

Measuring Lead in Drinking Water

Lead may be present in your home drinking water if:

  • There are lead pipes, brass fixtures, or lead connectors in your home or community water system.
  • Lead solder was used on your home water pipes.
  • You have soft water (low mineral content), or acidic water.

The only way to know the amount of lead in your household water is to have your water tested. Many certified labs (PDF) in Washington perform these tests for $25 to $50 per test.

Public Water Systems

The Washington State Department of Health requires public water systems to:

  • Collect samples from residential customers.
  • Treat the water when more than 10 percent of samples exceed the action level (0.015 parts per million).
  • Provide annual public education to all consumers when the water system exceeds the action level for lead.

Contact your water purveyor for the most recent sampling results.

Private Wells

Snohomish Health District recommends testing wells regularly for contaminants, including lead. If you get your water from a drilled well, test your water on an annual basis. If you have a dug well, test your water every 3 months. 

Learn more about testing your water.

Reducing Lead Exposure in Drinking Water

If you have not used your water for several hours, run the tap until the water is noticeably colder. This will help flush out any lead that may have accumulated in the stagnant water.

Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Hot water may contain higher levels of lead.

Clean the screens and aerators in faucets frequently to remove captured lead particles.

Use only certified “lead free” piping and materials for plumbing when building or remodeling.

Governor's Directive on Lead

On May 2, 2016, Governor Inslee issued Directive 16-06 (the directive) in response to the growing concerns about lead being found in drinking water in schools and homes across Washington State.