Lead FAQ

Lead FAQ

The water coming from the City of St. John's is lead-free.
Where lead may come from is when the water enters a private service line - the pipe that runs from your house (the lateral line) to the City's pipe (the watermain) under the street. None of the City's watermains are lead.

Because lateral lines belong to the homeowner, the City does not have a record of how many of these are lead. However, we do not come across lead lines in construction very often. When we do find them, we replace them. The City can replace a private line for a homeowner at a nominal fee of $500.

Health Risks of Lead Exposure (Source: Government of Canada)
It is important to reduce exposure to lead as much as possible because health effects of lead may occur even at low concentrations.

Who is most at risk from exposure to lead?

  • Children, infants and fetuses are most at risk because of their developing brains
  • Exposure to lead poses a risk to everyone’s health

What are the health effects of being exposed to lead?

  • Effects on neurological development and behaviour in children, including reduction of intelligence quotient (IQ)
  • Increased blood pressure or kidney problems in adults

Any reduction of exposure to lead decreases the risk of negative health effects.

What are the sources of lead in drinking water?
Some piping, plumbing materials or fittings may contain lead:

  • Some homes may have a lead service line – the pipe connecting the house plumbing to the water main – the National Plumbing Code allowed lead as a material in pipes until 1975
  • Brass faucets and fittings may contain lead
  • Some plumbing may contain lead solder – the National Plumbing Code allowed lead in solder until 1986

How does lead get into drinking water?

  • As water sits in pipes for several hours, lead can leach into the water
  • Small particles containing lead can also break free and be carried to the tap

Simple actions to reduce exposure to lead from drinking water:

  1. Flush out your pipes before consuming the water
    • Has water been sitting in your pipes for several hours? – Run the tap until it’s cold (about one minute) before drinking or cooking with the water from that tap
    • Only use cold tap water for drinking or cooking, since hot water increases the leaching of lead and other metals from your plumbing
  2. Clean your taps monthly
    • Every month, inspect the aerators or screens at the tap
    • If you find debris, clean it out– this will remove any particles that may contain lead, and inspect more frequently
    • If you do not find debris, continue to inspect monthly
  3. Replace Brass fittings
    • Brass faucets and valves can contain some lead – These can be replaced with fittings that are certified to the standard on low lead content
  4. A household water filter at the tap can effectively remove lead from your water
    • Recommended as a temporary solution
    • The filter must be installed and maintained properly or it could become ineffective
    • Test your water for lead before installation and during use to confirm the filter is working

 Make sure that any device you purchase is certified to the NSF International standard for removal of lead.