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Learn About Lead

Image source: U.S. EPA - Lead in Drinking Water Infographic

Lead in Drinking Water

Lead enters drinking water primarily because of the corrosion 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 a building to the water main (service lines).

Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. 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 formulas and concentrated juices that are mixed with water. The Lead in Drinking Water fact sheet provides more detailed information.

Ohio law includes requirements related to lead and copper for public water systems and certified laboratories. Ohio EPA reviews standards for lead and copper monitoring, requires timely public notification of monitoring results and ensuring public water systems optimize corrosion control treatment. For details, see the Lead and Copper in Public Water Systems webpage.

Ways to Reduce Lead Exposure to Drinking Water

  • Work with community and water utility officials if your home has a lead service line. It's important to replace these lines in their entirety.
  • Flush the water before drinking.
    • If you have lead water fixtures, lead plumbing materials or a lead service line, flush any time the water has been motionless for four hours or more.
    • If you have a lead service line, flush your water until the line is cleared — about 30 seconds to three minutes.
    • If you have lead fixtures but no lead service line, flush the tap for approximately 30 seconds to three minutes.
  • Clean faucet aerators regularly.
  • Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.
  • Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily in hot water.
  • Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water can increase the concentration.
  • Consider a water filter.

Test Your Water for Lead

  • Ohio EPA Certified Labs for Lead and Copper
  • Contact your utility to see if you are eligible to participate in their compliance sampling.
  • Contact a professional plumber to determining whether your home’s plumbing may contain lead.
  • Consider replacing your home's plumbing with non-lead materials where possible

See if Your Home has a Lead Service Line Connecting to the Water Main

Contact Your Water Supplier for Information About Your Drinking Water

Public water systems are required to monitor their water regularly for contaminants. When a system doesn't meet a standard, consumers are notified. Water systems are also required to provide customers with a Consumer Confidence Report each year. Details about these reports, along with details about monitoring and reporting requirements may be found on the Public Water Systems webpage.

In addition, many communities provide information about lead and drinking water to customers online. Contact your water supplier to find out what information they have available. Here are a few examples.

General Lead and Copper Info

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress. This law requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur with an adequate margin of safety. Since lead contamination of drinking water often results from corrosion of the plumbing materials belonging to consumers, the EPA establishes a Treatment Technique. The Treatment Technique regulation for lead requires water systems to control the corrosivity of water.

In 2016, Ohio Legislature amended Ohio Revised Code Chapter 6109, adopting new requirements related to lead and copper for public water systems and certified laboratories. On May 1, 2018 new rules became effective.

LCRR Effective Date Extension and Review

In 2019, U.S. EPA proposed lead and copper rule revisions (LCRR), these rules became effective on Dec. 16, 2021. On the same date, U.S. EPA announced the development of a new regulation: lead and copper rule improvements (LCRI). It is important to note, that while U.S. EPA is drafting the LCRI and has indicated intent to modify certain provisions of the LCRR, the lead service line inventory requirement is not likely to change. Ohio EPA is closely monitoring these federal regulatory developments and expects a draft of the LCRI to be published in late 2023.


Lead Service Lines

Ohio EPA, in conjunction with ODH, developed a flushing guidance document for premise plumbing water service restoration. While this guidance was not written specifically for flushing related to potential lead particulate contamination in a house or building, it may be helpful if there is suspected lead particulate from service line or main work near a house or building.

Funding Programs

H2Ohio Funding to Replace Lead Service Lines

In September, 2020, as part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s H2Ohio initiative, Ohio EPA awarded $725,000 to the City of Cincinnati for the removal and replacement of lead service lines and lead-containing fixtures at approximately 185 childcare facilities. The Ohio Department of Health also contributed funding for lead fixture testing through a federal award provided by U.S. EPA.

Ohio EPA's Drinking Water Assistance Fund: Lead Service Line Replacement Funding

According to an American Water Works Association article published in 2016, approximately 6.1 million homes across the country receive drinking water through lead pipes, known as lead service lines (LSL). Since 2017, in response to concerns about lead in drinking water, Ohio EPA’s Drinking Water Assistance Fund (DWAF) program has provided no interest financing for LSL replacement. Eligible projects include public LSL replacement activities and costs to replace private lead service lines up to premise plumbing also are eligible. Projects with both public- and private-side lead service lines must include replacement of both lines. Figure 1 outlines the components eligible for funding (see bright green outline). More details are available in this fact sheet.

LSLR Project List - $20 Million Principal Forgiveness available for FY2021 and 2022

Note: Award Amount is estimated in projects that have not yet received funding.

Entity Project Name Award Date Award Amount
Akron Lead Service Line Replacement 2020 10/29/2020 $1,000,000
Delphos Fifth St WL (and LSL replacements) 10/29/2020 $350,000
Elyria Lead Service Line Replacement Project 2/25/2021 $886,325
Lorain Red Hill Boosted Pressure Zone Imps Ph1 2/25/2021 $479,660
Cleveland Lead Service Line Replacement   $1,000,000
Twin City E 1st Street WL and LSL Imps   $220,300
Crestline Village Main St WL Ph2    
Pomeroy Lead Service Elimination (LSLs, pneumatic tank and tower)   $998,000
Cincinnati Private Lead Service Line Replacement   $1,000,000
Hillsboro Springlake Ave Reconstruction    
Alliance Lead Service Line Replacement   $1,000,000
Del-Co Centerburg, Ohio LSL Replacement   $787,600
Buckeye Water District Wellsville Lead Service Line Replacement   $1,000,000
Wilmington Lead Service Line Replacement Program   $100,000
Middleport Water Distribution and Well #4, #7, and #8    
Port Clinton Water and Sanitary Sewer Infrastructure Imps    
Scio WL and LSL Replacement (LSL only through WSRLS)   $196,000
East Palestine WL Replacement Project    
Kenton Downtown Revitalization Phase 2    
Tuscarawas Village Water System Improvements    
Akron Lead Service Line Replacement 2021   $1,000,000
Waynesville Lead Service Line Replacement, Phase 1   $830,000
Cadiz Lead Service Line Replacement   $519,000
Bowerston Water System Improvements (LSLR)   $150,000
Greenville Lead Service Line Replacement, Phase 1   $925,000
Logan Lead Service Line Replacement 2021   $1,000,000
Pomeroy Lead Service Elimination   $998,300
Delphos Skinner St Lead Water Line Replacement   $610,925
Rittman Sterling Ave LSLR   $789,800
New Concord Friendship Dr LSL & Meter Replacement   $196,410

U.S. EPA's WIIN 2107: Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water

Authorized under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, the Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant creates a program to assist with voluntary testing for lead in drinking water at schools and child care programs. In the program’s inaugural launch in 2019, the grant included $43.7 million in funding. In it's second year, U.S. EPA will award approximately $26 million for the 2020 Lead Testing in School and Child Care Program Drinking Water Grant Program.

Poisoning Prevention

The Ohio Department of Health has information on lead poisoning through the Lead Licensure and Accreditation and Childhood Lead Poisoning programs. Many local health departments also have information for residents - contact them directly to find out what information they provide. Here are a few examples.

Lead in Homes

Lead has been found in paint, ceramics, pipes and plumbing materials, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition and cosmetics. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website provides information to help learn about possible sources and remedies for lead exposure in private residences. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's healthy homes webpage also has helpful information for residents.

Lead in Schools

U.S. EPA's 3Ts for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water Toolkit provides tools for schools, child care facilities, states and water systems to implement voluntary lead in drinking water testing programs.