New Brighton release on lead found in city drinking water

Recent drinking water quality monitoring conducted by the City of New Brighton has found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes/buildings in New Brighton. Although the primary sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust or soil, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 10 to 20 percent of a person’s potential exposure to lead may come from drinking water.

The City of New Brighton is concerned about the health of its residents because lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters the body from drinking water or other sources, especially for pregnant women and children 6 years or younger. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. 

Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.

Changes in certain water quality characteristics can cause higher levels of lead in homes that had previously tested lower. Since July 2016, New Brighton has used water provided by the City of Minneapolis, which is surface water. Before July 2016, New Brighton’s water came from its groundwater wells. The difference in water characteristics with this change could be capable of removing some of the naturally-occurring mineral deposits that have formed over the years inside New Brighton homes’ plumbing. This could expose plumbing connections or fixtures containing lead, making them more susceptible to corrosion. 

There are several actions the city is taking to address this lead in drinking water concern. New Brighton has been proactive in minimizing lead exposure risk. In preparation for the source water change in 2016, the city met with the Minnesota Department of Health and Minneapolis officials to discuss potential water quality changes associated with the switchover. 

New Brighton began injecting a corrosion prevention substance (orthophosphate) into its water supply for two months prior to the switchover. The purpose of this preventive substance is to form a thin protective coating on the interior of the city’s distribution lines and household plumbing systems to minimize corrosion. This is the same substance that Minneapolis uses for corrosion control in its system. The city has continued to inject orthophosphate through the present day, and will continue to do so throughout the switchover back to groundwater.

Steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in your water:

• Run your water to flush out lead. Run water for 30-60 seconds or until it becomes cold or it reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking, if it hasn’t been used for several hours. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes.

• Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.

• Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.

• Look for alternative drinking water sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter.

• Test your water for lead. Call the City of New Brighton at 651-638-2114 to find out how to get your water tested for lead.

• Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure.

• Identify if your plumbing fixtures contain lead.

Call Jesse Hartman at 651-638-2114 or visit www.newbrightonmn.gov to find out how to get your water tested for lead or for more information on steps New Brighton is taking to address the lead action level exceedance. For more information on reducing lead exposure around homes/buildings and the health effects of lead, visit www.epa.gov/lead or contact your healthcare provider.

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