Angels Camp, CA — Some water tests in Angels Camp recently showed lead levels higher than what the state and federal government allows.
City Engineer David Myers says while many homes tested had very low levels, some older homes were above 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water, which is when it starts to become a concern. The City must put in place measures to reduce lead by August of 2014.
Myers says the water itself is really not the issue, but it’s often the plumbing materials that were used in older homes. City residents are encouraged to take proactive measures. In California, a law was passed in 1985 prohibiting the use of lead solder and pipes for plumbing.
Lead is most concerning for pregnant women and young children. The City’s program to reduce the lead levels will include corrosion control measures, service water treatment and public education.
The below information below was released by the City of Angels Camp:
To find out whether you need to take action in your own home, have your drinking water tested to determine if it contains excessive concentrations of lead. Testing the water is essential because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. Some local laboratories that can provide this service. For more information on having your water tested, please call 736-2412.
If a water test indicates that the drinking water drawn from a tap in your home contains lead above 15 ppb, then you should take the following precautions:
Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in a faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer water resides in your home’s plumbing the more lead it may contain. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet until the water gets noticeably colder, usually about 15 to 30 seconds. If your house has a lead service line to the water main, you may have to flush the water for a longer time, perhaps one minute, before drinking. 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 family’s health. It usually uses less than one or two gallons of water and costs less than 50 cents per month. To conserve water, fill a couple of bottles for drinking water after flushing the tap, and whenever possible use the first flush water to wash the dishes or water the plants. If you live in a high-rise building, letting the water flow before using it may not work to lessen your risk from lead. The plumbing systems have more, and sometimes larger pipes than smaller buildings. Ask your landlord for help in locating the source of the lead and for advice on reducing the lead level.
Try not to cook with, or drink water from the hot water tap. Hot water can dissolve more lead more quickly than cold water. If you need hot water, draw water from the cold tap and heat it on the stove.
Remove loose lead solder and debris from the plumbing materials installed in newly constructed homes, or homes in which the plumbing has recently been replaced, by removing the faucet strainers from all taps and running the water from 3 to 5 minutes. Thereafter, periodically remove the strainers and flush out any debris that has accumulated over time.
If your copper pipes are joined with lead solder that has been installed illegally since it was banned in 1986, notify the plumber who did the work and request that he or she replace the lead solder with lead-free solder. Lead solder looks dull gray, and when scratched with a key looks shiny. In addition, notify the California Department of Public Health and your local environmental health department about the violation.
Determine whether or not the service line that connects your home or apartment to the water main is made of lead. The best way to determine if your service line is made of lead is by either hiring a licensed plumber to inspect the line or by contacting the plumbing contractor who installed the line. You can identify the plumbing contractor by checking the record of building permits which should be maintained in the files of the City of Angels Camp Building Department. A licensed plumber can at the same time check to see if your home’s plumbing contains lead solder, lead pipes, or pipe fittings that contain lead. The public water system that delivers water to your home maintains records of the materials located in the distribution system. If the service line that connects your dwelling to the water main contributes more than 15 ppb to drinking water, after our comprehensive treatment program is in place, we are required to replace the portion of the line we own. If the line is only partially owned by the City of Angels Camp, we are required to provide the owner of the privately-owned portion of the service line with information on how to replace the privately-owned portion of the service line, and offer to replace that portion of the line at the owner’s expense. If we replace only the portion of the line that we own, we also are required to notify you in advance and provide you with information on the steps you can take to minimize exposure to any temporary increase in lead levels that may result from the partial replacement, to take a follow-up sample at our expense from the line within 72 hours after the partial replacement, and to mail or otherwise provide you with the results of that sample within three business days of receiving the results. Acceptable replacement alternatives include copper, stainless steel, and plastic pipes. Partial replacement should avoid the creation of mixed piping systems and include the installation of approved dielectric couplings at all dissimilar metal interfaces.
Have an electrician check your wiring. If grounding wires from the electrical system are attached to your pipes, corrosion may be greater. Check with a licensed electrician or your local electrical code to determine if your wiring can be grounded elsewhere. DO NOT attempt to change the wiring yourself because improper grounding can cause electrical shock and fire hazards.
The steps described above will reduce the lead concentrations in your drinking water. However, if a water test indicates that the drinking water coming from your tap contains lead concentrations in excess of 15 ppb after flushing, or after we have completed our actions to minimize lead levels, then you may want to take the following additional measures:
Purchase or lease a home treatment device. Home treatment devices are limited in that each unit treats only the water that flows from the faucet to which it is connected, and all of the devices require periodic maintenance and replacement. Devices such as reverse osmosis systems or distillers can effectively remove lead from your drinking water. Since these treatments remove dissolved minerals, water treated by these devices will have a greater tendency to leach lead from brass faucets or fittings which the water contacts after treatment. Some activated carbon filters may reduce lead levels at the tap, however all lead reduction claims should be investigated. Be sure to check the actual performance of a specific home treatment device before and after installing the unit. The California Department of Public Health certifies the effectiveness of home treatment devices. Only devices certified by the California Department of Public Health to remove lead should be used for this purpose.
Purchase bottled water for drinking and cooking.