91.7 Ann Arbor/Detroit 104.1 Grand Rapids 91.3 Port Huron 89.7 Lansing 91.1 Flint
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

State's stricter drinking water requirements turn up more lead

Filling a sample bottle.
Virginia Tech

Twenty-one drinking water systems in Michigan this year have found lead amounts that exceed the federal action limit, according to state officials.

Those results are at least partially due to the state’s new standards for lead testing.

Out of the 21 systems that exceeded the federal action level, nine were over because of the new standards, state officials says.

The new standards require additional sampling of drinking water in homes that have lead pipes.

The samples include the first liter, and the fifth liter of water to flow out of the tap during sampling.

“That fifth liter is generally higher than that first liter,” says Eric Oswald, with the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. “Because that water’s been sitting in contact with that lead service line overnight.”

Water that’s been sitting stagnant in lead pipes is more likely to have lead particles.

For that reason, health officials recommend that anyone who suspects they have lead in their water pipes run the tap water for three to five minutes in the morning, or anytime the water has been stagnant for several hours.

[We are] recommending that everyone do flushing daily and clean their aerators at least twice a year, and possibly more if materials are being found in those aerators, says Kory Groetsch, with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

He says the state recommends precautions for any homes with lead pipes, especially in homes with small children or pregnant mothers.

Groetsch says anyone with concerns can contact their local county health department for more information and assistance.

The state posts drinking water test results, and more information on lead risks, at michigan.gov/mileadsafe.

To find out if your home has lead pipes, you can use this guide

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
Related Content