Bradford City Water Authority

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Lead, Drinking Water & YOU!

Lead in our environment is a public health issue about which we should all be concerned.

Lead is a soft metal which is now known to be harmful to human health if consumed or inhaled.  Since lead accumulates in the body, its potential for harm depends upon the level of exposure from all sources.

There are three potential sources for lead to accumulate in the body.  The major source is from food, and lead is also inhaled from the air.  The other potential source of lead is from your drinking water.

To protect the public’s health, public drinking water supplies are governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act under which the United States Environmental Protection Agency sets drinking water standards.

Although there is a high level of compliance with drinking water standards throughout the United States, there is still reason for some concern about certain contaminants which may get into public drinking water supplies, including lead.

As your supplier of drinking water we have prepared this information piece to help educate you on this issue.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets drinking water standards and has determined that lead is a health concern at certain levels of exposure.  There is currently a standard of 0.015 parts per million (ppm).

Part of the purpose of this notice is to inform you of the potential adverse health effects of lead.  This is being done even through your water may not be in violation of the current standard.

           EPA and others are concerned about lead in drinking water.  Too much lead in the human body can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells.  The greatest risk, even with short-term exposure, is to young children and pregnant women.

Lead levels in your drinking water are likely to be highest:

If your home or water system has lead pipes, or

If your home has copper pipes with lead solder, and

If the home was built prior to 1986, or

If you have soft or acidic water, or

If water sits stagnant in the pipes for more than six hours.

Typically, if lead is present in the drinking water, it enters after the water leaves the local water treatment plant.  The most common cause of lead entering drinking water is corrosion, a reaction between the water and the lead pipes or the lead-based solder.

            When water stands in the pipes of a residence for a minimum of six hours without use, there is a potential for lead to leach, or dissolve, into the water if a lead source is present.

            Soft water (water that makes soap suds easily) can be more corrosive and, therefore, has higher levels of dissolved lead.  Some home water treatment devices may also make water more corrosive.

            It was common practice in the United States through the early 1900s to use lead pipes for interior plumbing.  Since the 1930s, copper pipe has been used for residential plumbing.  Until 1986, however, lead-based solder was used widely to join copper pipes.  Lead-free solder and lead-free materials are now required by federal law for use in new household plumbing and for plumbing repairs.  To find out if the plumbing in a residence contains lead, try scratching the pipe with a key or screwdriver.   Lead is a soft metal and is dull gray in color.  If lead pipes are present they will scratch easily and will be shiny when scratched. 

            Dissolved lead cannot be seen in water.  Testing by a state-approved laboratory is the only way to determine if drinking water has high levels of dissolved lead.  Contact the local utility or health department for the name of an approved laboratory.  The lab will provide the correct procedures to be followed for a water test.  The U.S. EPA estimates that a test should cost somewhere between $30 and $75.

            If the drinking water is determined to have high levels of dissolved lead, or if there is an abiding suspicion of lead contamination because of the presence of soft water, lead pipes, lead solder, and other lead-based plumbing materials, there are ways to minimize exposure.

            One way is to “flush” each cold-water faucet in a home when water stands more than a few hours.  Flushing a cold-water faucet means allowing the water to run until it gets as cold as it will get before each use.  Normally this may take two or three minutes.  Keep in mind that toilet and shower use or doing laundry with cold water will also move through the plumbing system, and this will reduce the amount of time needed to flush the cold-water faucets to five to 30 seconds.

            Another way is one of avoidance: do not cook with or consume water from the hot-water faucet.  Hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold water.  Especially avoid using hot tap water for making baby formula.  If hot water is needed for cooking or oral consumption, draw water from the cold water tap and heat it on the stove or in the microwave. 

            If plumbing repairs or other plumbing work is done, make certain that only lead-free solder and other lead-free materials are used.  This is now a federal law.

There are other actions which can be taken by household users to reduce the risk of lead in drinking water.  For additional information, please contact the local utility, county or state health department, or the U.S. EPA.  The U.S. EPA has a toll free hotline dedicated to this subject ~ 1-800-426-4791 ~ and has also prepared a booklet on this issue.


[This information has been approved by the U.S. EPA and meets EPA’s lead public notice requirements under Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1986]


In addition to the general information provided in this brochure, we have also included the following system-specific information about the drinking water we provide to you.

Bradford City Water Authority, in our continuous water treatment process, adjusts the pH level and mineral content to deliver minimally corrosive drinking water to you.
(It dissolves lead slowly when compared to corrosive water).

The average level of lead found in the water delivered to your home’s service connection by Bradford City Water Authority is 0.005 parts per million (ppm).
However, tap water may contain higher levels of lead leached from lead plumbing materials used in your home.

Bradford City Water Authority has supplied our employees with lead-free solder and other plumbing repair materials.
All plumbers, builders, contractors and other who work within our service area are required to use only lead-free solder and materials.
In addition, we also informed those who apply for new water services of the federal ban prohibiting the use of solder and other materials which contain lead, along with signing a notarized

Lead-Free Certification prior to connecting to our water system.


The Effects of Lead in your Drinking Water...

Although there are many sources of lead in our industrialized society, water is probably the most readily controllable.  Our drinking water can contain significant amounts of lead, the result of corrosion of lead plumbing parts inside buildings and homes, or lead mains or service connections.  As many as one in five Americans may be exposed to unsafe levels of lead in drinking water.  In fact, recent studies indicate that tap water may contribute up to 40 percent of total lead exposure.  Pregnant women, fetuses, young children (especially under the age of six), and middle-aged men and women are especially vulnerable to the health effects of lead.  Even very low doses of lead can have a negative effect because lead, unlike most other contaminants, is stored in our bones and released later into the bloodstream.  For this reason, even small amounts of lead can accumulate and become significant.
The Pennsylvania Lead Ban & Property Owners
Public Water System
Connection Certification
Before purchasing a newly constructed home or non-residential facility, check with town officials to see if an ordinance or plumbing code that bans the use of leaded materials is being enforced.  If not, get written assurance from the builder that only lead-free plumbing materials were used in your new home.  If the home has been or will be connected to a public water system, ask to see the connection certification that must be provided to the water supplier.  A new home or building completed after January 6, 1991 must have such a certification before it can be connected to the public water system.
Private Wells Although certification is not required for hookup to private wells, the Lead Ban applies to all plumbing applications, including individual homes and non-residential facilities that obtain their water from such sources.
If You Hire a Plumber to
do the Work...
Instruct the plumber, in writing, to use only lead-free materials for repairs or for newly installed plumbing.  Report any lead ban violations to DEP. 
If you do your own plumbing work, be sure that you use only lead-free materials.
Penalties for Violation
of The Lead Ban
If you find leaded materials in your plumbing system, and the building was completed after January 6, 1991, contact the plumbing installer.  He may be required to replace the banned materials with lead-free materials at his own expense.  Installers also may be required to provide alternate, approved drinking water (bottled water) until the lead-bearing plumbing materials are replaced.
If Your New Home
Was Built Before
January 6, 1991...
If you are uncertain whether lead-free plumbing materials were used, remove all strainers from the faucets and flush the system for at least 15 minutes. This will remove loose solder and flux debris from the plumbing.  Routinely check the strainers and remove any later accumulation of loose debris.  Because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, the only way to tell if there is lead contamination is by testing the water.  Contact your water supplier or DEP for a list of reliable laboratories.
Electrical Grounding The common practice of grounding electrical equipment to water pipes may cause lead to dissolve into the water more rapidly.  Contact your local building inspector to see if an alternate grounding system is permitted under to local building code.  For safety, only a licensed electrician should install an alternate grounding system.

Lead... It's The Law

In July 1989, Pennsylvania passed The Plumbing System Lead Ban and Notification Act.  That law becomes  effective January 6, 1991 and applies only to plumbing construction or repairs completed after that date.  The purpose is similar in many respects to the 1986 amendments to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act that requires the use of lead-free materials in the construction or repair of any public water system or any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility connected to a public water system.
Pennsylvania v. Federal Law

 PA’s lead ban applies to all plumbing, not just plumbing used for drinking water.
Federal law applies only to plumbing systems providing potable water.

PA’s lead ban forbids the sale as well as the use of leaded solder, flux, pipe, or pipe fittings.
The products must be removed from the shelves.
The ban includes solid or acid core solders, such as 50-50 tin-lead solder and 85-15 tin-lead solder.

PA’s lead ban applies to all water users including individual homes and non-residential facilities which obtain their water from private wells.
Federal law regulates only public water systems and their customers.

PA’s lead ban requires the builder to certify that all materials used in the construction of a plumbing system to be connected to a public water supply are lead-free.
A water supplier must refuse connection to any person who fails to provide such a certification, unless the local municipal plumbing code already prohibits the use of leaded materials.

If You Suspect a Violation...

Contact the
Department of Environmental Protection
North West Region Drinking Water
Meadville, PA

(814) 332-6899

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