City Officials: Tap Water Shows Elevated Lead Levels

DEP: Run Cold For 30 Seconds Before Cooking, Drinking

(updated Fri 11/5/2010 7:15am)

NEW YORK (CBS 2 / 1010 WINS / WCBS 880) — Whether you live in a house or an apartment, this could impact your life.

There’s a water warning in New York City.

WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reports

The Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday wait before you drink what’s coming out of your faucet, reports CBS 2’s Pablo Guzman.

Like most people, when Natalia Cole of Maspeth, Queens heard there were elevated levels of lead in the city’s water supply, she got a bit nervous.

“There’s nothing I can do,” she said.

But the city said what was found was an increase in lead so small, it won’t hurt you.

“The levels that were detected, which were very slightly above the action level that the EPA defines, don’t pose any clear public health risk,” said NYC DEP Commissioner Cas Holloway.

Holloway and Dr. Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, held a joint press conference about the slight increase in lead in the city’s water, and urged all New Yorkers to run cold water first before using it for drinking or cooking.

Guzman talked with Dr. John Rosen of Montefiore Hospital, an expert in lead poisoning among children. He said that while there’s not enough lead in water to be a problem …

“When it comes to lead, it’s always better to be safe than sorry because according to the U.S. CDC, according to the U.S. EPA, there really is no level of lead that’s safe in children,” Dr. Rosen said.

The potential for lead in the water increases in buildings and homes built before 1987, because lead solder was used to seal pipe joints. And for buildings put up before 1961, there’s an even greater concern — because the pipelines that brought water to those homes were made entirely of lead.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reports

The city monitors water in older buildings through regular testing as part of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. In this year’s tests, conducted from June to September, 14 percent — or 30 out of 222 tested buildings — showed lead levels higher than the accepted benchmark.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires local utilities to take action if 10 percent or more of tested buildings have lead levels of more than 15 parts per billion.

Too much lead can damage the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells.

The city said drinking water is rarely the cause of lead poisoning but can contribute to a person’s overall exposure.

The guidelines say a tap needs to be run if the water in that faucet has not been used for six hours or longer.

The last time the city’s water triggered such a response was in 2005, the DEP said.

In the past decade, other cities have similarly exceeded the EPA benchmark, including Boston, Washington and Portland, Ore.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

More from Carol D'Auria
  • Jon

    Why does running the water 30 seconds make a difference? Is this a temporary thing or has it always been a problem? Why can’t the news inform us rather than just try to freak us out?

  • Tom round

    Buy a $10.00 Watersafe lead test and find out if your water is safe. Tom

  • Walldor

    How will running it for 30 seconds make it contain less lead?

  • Maxwell

    Lead in the water? My God that explains everything!

  • duke of earl

    NY is run by democrats what do you expect. Democrats need the voters to be brain dead in order to convince them to vote so pour on the lead.

  • Grandpa

    Will this put more lead in my pipe?

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  • Joe Blow

    you already drink fluoride so why stop with a bit of lead? If your thirsty just drink some toothpaste, how yeah it’s poisonous if swallowed.

  • harleyrider1978

    When it comes to lead, it’s always better to be safe than sorry because according to the U.S. CDC, according to the U.S. EPA, there really is no level of lead that’s safe in children,” Dr. Rosen said.

    Thats odd,you just said they set the levels of safety for lead in water…………but I guess you gotta play the harp there nutty professor……….

    There are safe levels for everything including second han tobacco smoke which OSHA has……..yet you pass an indoor smoking ban……….ludicrous is what the word is for you health facists……

    According to independent Public and Health Policy Research group, Littlewood & Fennel of Austin, Tx, on the subject of secondhand smoke……..

    They did the figures for what it takes to meet all of OSHA’S minimum PEL’S on shs/ets…….Did it ever set the debate on fire.

    They concluded that:

    All this is in a small sealed room 9×20 and must occur in ONE HOUR.

    For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes

    “For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes

    “Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

    Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up.

    “For Hydroquinone, “only” 1250 cigarettes

    For arsenic 2 million 500,000 smokers at one time

    The same number of cigarettes required for the other so called chemicals in shs/ets will have the same outcomes.

    So,OSHA finally makes a statement on shs/ets :

    Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA

  • Robert W.

    They will blame it on President Bush, they blame him for everything else that goes wrong on this planet. To have done all the damage that he is accused of G.W.Bush must have been the most powerful man that ever lived.

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  • mike

    maybe it isnt lead? if pipes are lead than running the water will increase the eroision of the pipes………what is the real reason?

  • Phil

    This story is really not written clearly at all. What is the source of the increased lead — is the lead level of water coming into the city higher, or did certain locations just happen to test higher this time around? The article states that 30 out of 200 buildings tested had lead levels above the action level. But due to their plumbing, some buildings will always show higher lead levels than others. So the question is, did all of the buildings tested show higher levels than usual?

    • Ed

      I work in this field.

      This measures the corrosivity of the water as it is supplied to the customers. Even water considered slightly alkaline (pH >7) can result in elevated readings, particularly if fixtures contain higher levels of lead, or there is a lot of lead-bearing solder in the pipe joints, or if the builiding’s water service line is made of lead (as many older buildings may have).

      The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) evaluates lead and copper levels in the system at the 90th percentile sample (10% of the samples are allowed to exceed the action level). For 200 samples, 20 would be allowed to exceed the action level.

      In my experience, the problems usually occur as the result of poorly-prepared sample locations. Sample locations are supposed to be flushed out the night before, and then sampled first thing in the morning. What really happens: someone draws water for morning coffee, realizes that they were supposed to take the LCR sample, and then run the water from the guest bathroom that has not been used for a couple of months.

      The water system now starts 2 parallel processes: (1) analyze the water chemistry and start to determine a treatment process, and (2) conduct more sampling over the next year to determine whether there is an actual problem or whether this is an anomaly due to improper sample location selection/preparation

      • Ed

        builiding’s = building’s
        (fat fingers…)

  • Leslie

    It’s all good. Bloomberg will just tax it.

  • Elliot

    Here comes the water scare….Just like the air we exhale is a pollutant….

    How much more money is the city, state going to demand from an already destitute citizenry?

    How much more are these parasites going to demand.

  • MIke in PA

    We in Fly-Over country wondered why New Yorkers voted the way they do and always suspected there must be something in the water…now we know. As kids they also probably liked to chew on the paint flakes.

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  • Aunt Bee

    If you don’t filter your water with a high quality filter you’re a moron. My cats drink better water than 90% of people.


  • socalgeeegee

    The water right out of the tap in NYC is so delicious!
    Could water filters help?
    Our San Diego tap water is terrible.

    • Virginia Khouw

      Sure, you could install a water filter in your kitchen tap to help reduce lead and other contaminants of health concerns. Just make sure the treatment system is tested and certified by NSF.

      Virginai Khouw, Ph.D.

  • H2O

    Big Berkey Water Filter!! It also filters fluoride.

  • Kingfish

    Well finally, that explains all the brain dead people in NY

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  • Logo4245

    Just wait until millions of those mercury filled light bulbs make it to the landfills and ground water.

  • lead-hope

    Not many people know about it but the best way to remove lead from your body is to use an EDTA rectal suppository, such as Detoxamin or Kelatox. You would find these products at oradix (dot) com
    Don’t forget that based on a Swiss study, the participants who went through with the EDTA chelation achieved a 90% reduction in cancer mortality over 18 years.
    SO the removal of toxic metals, such as lead is a tremendously good investment.

  • Trixie Winters

    How do you think BEER is made? Have another one!!!

  • never ending fight for freedom

    That it, nothing but beer from here on…

  • john smith

    No =, I know why NYC votes the Democratic Socialist Line.

  • HarryObrian

    Lead shouldn’t be a problem, the entire federal complex in DC has had leaded water for decades and they’re just fine.. :)

  • Bubba

    I always wondered why new yorkers kept electing liberals when liberals make their lives a living hell. Now I have the answer, LEAD POISONING! It is not their fault that they are brain damaged.

  • Brenda

    I wouldn’t trust the EPA to wash my dog much less tell me how much lead is in the pipes. They will do anything to push this White Houses’s agenda. More money on infastructure, more money for a slush fund, plain and simple more money period!!!

  • Bob C

    Just raise the rates Mike, that will fix everything. And no salt. And no trans fats or smoking. Lead is okay, right Mike?

  • Rachel

    How did lead get into our water system in the first place? Lead does not naturally occur in water. Even if we can’t do anything about it, as Natalie says, are we all just supposed to be okay with drinking poison? Why hasn’t any news source given us any real idea of HOW this might have happened? If these pipes have all had lead in them for 40 years, why is this all of a sudden a problem? Isn’t it more likely that lead entered our water supply through, oh i don’t know…fracking?!?

  • M. Savage

    Explains all the mental illness in New York.

  • Yephora

    But . . . but . . . but . . . “New York has the best water in the world!”

    I hope we’ve heard the last of that nonsense.

  • Clifton Middleton

    The Water Crisis, A Practical Solution

    The Water crisis is the most serious problem humanity has ever faced. Water pollution has infused the entire food chain with neurotoxins, poisons and pharmaceuticals, all of which damage the health and survivability of man and planet. The cause is our modern, water based sewer system. We flush all of our disposables down the drain, into the sewer system where more chemicals are added and then finally pumped back into our water system. Water based sewer systems are the prime polluters and our use of them has proved to be full of unintended and unanticipated horrors. The use of water based sewer system wastes and contaminates the entire water supply with pollutants and nutrients that if captured and recycled, could provide sufficient agricultural nutrients to ensure a sustainable food supply.

    One practical solution to the water shortage is to replace our centralized water based sewer system with on site, waterless toilets and recycle grey water. Grey water is the water from the kitchen and shower and can be recycled, on site and reused for landscaping. This will reduce our demand on the water source by 80 percent while simultaneously creating a sustainable, renewable, agricultural resource, namely, organic nitrogen.
    No Mix toilets collect urine and feces in separate places, the toilet bowl has two drains, one, in the front for the urine and one in the back for the feces. The feces are dry composted and the urine is processed for agricultural purposes. Separating toilets protect the water supply and provide a renewable, safe, low cost source of nitrogen, enough to greatly reduce our dependence on foreign natural gas and oil. The important key is to separate the valuable, nitrogen rich urine, human urine is 18% organic nitrogen, at the source, before it is mixed with feces and before it is flushed into the water supply.

    The economic potential of capturing human urine is stunning. Human urine is 18% organic nitrogen and has been used in agriculture for thousands of years. Sweden, Germany, Holland and many other countries have been using and processing human urine for agricultural purposes and to protect the environment from water based sewer systems. Human urine is the only renewable, sustainable and economically feasible source of nitrogen available to humanity and it is free.

    What is the economic value of human urine? Here is how it works, the value of comparative petroleum derived fertilizer with the same 18% nitrogen content is approximately $10.00 a gallon and requires a massive polluting industry that is not renewable. The average person produces 2 liters of urine a day or roughly $5.00 worth of organic nitrogen. A city like Miami flushes down the drain 10 to 20 million dollars worth of nitrogen a day and spends another fortune to do it. Integrated Recycling is the future of our economy and could replace taxation in funding community services. The cities will become fertilizer factories and urban and suburban farming and food production could provide a sustainable, local food supply. Schools and churches could be nurseries and local gardening centers, hubs of city and urban agriculture and recycling. This could be a sustainable, local system that is a renewable doable foundation for local economies. Local food production is the basis of all economies and the missing component in modern cities.

    This kind of integrated recycling is highly profitable and turns three life threatening problems, water shortage, water pollution and imported oil into one sustainable, environmentally positive and economically beneficial solution.
    Water based sewer systems unnecessarily wastes and pollutes our most valuable resource, clean water. There is only one water supply for the entire earth. We share this single resource with 6.5 billion other humans and with all living organisms. Water should be regarded as our most important natural resource and shared birthright. Water is the first thing mankind must agree to share according to the highest collective principle. Water is the tie that binds us together, for better or for worse.
    Water is the blood of the earth and a true sacrament, something we all share, something that is absolutely necessary for life. We should not pollute the water supply with chemicals, insecticides or human disposables that can and should be recycled to insure a healthy and sustainable future.

    Modern, water based sewer systems could be the worst idea mankind has ever adopted. Common sense informs us not to defecate in the drinking water but that is exactly what we currently do in every city of the land. We do it without thinking. That is the problem. We are not thinking right. It is possible, conceivable, that the water crisis could be THE reason people begin to think of ourselves as truly united with everyone else on the planet, known and unknown, united in our fears, hopes and desires. 6.5 billion Separate destinies have become one destiny for us all …

  • matt

    trying to squeeze more money out of people as they reduce consumption because they have reduced/lost wages. Waste more water so the Water Company can take more advantage of the Govt Mandated Monopoly! Where I live, not NY, people have reduced consumption because they keep jacking up rates, then they come back the next year and raise rates because the business model is getting blown because people are reducing their consumption because of the increased rates! Niiiiice, huh?! Im thinking about redrilling my well and setting up rain barrels. F- the Govt Monopoly Greed Machine. Oh, think on this one for a minute, What is the largest most powerful Special Interest Lobby in the US today, THE GOVT! Not Oil, Not Insurance, Not Pahrma, Not the NRA or AARP, but DC itself is the most powerful and corrupt special interest in the history of humanity.

    • Elliot

      Amen, brother!

  • JoeNJ

    So there’s no way to filter the lead out of the water?

    • Virginia Khouw

      Reply to JoeNJk

      Multi-Pure solid carbon block filter is tested and certified by NSF to filter the lead and the widest range of contaminnats out of your drinking water! Visit Multi-Pure website to see how it works!

      Virginia Khouw, PHD

  • phnx

    Lead is a heavy metal which is not metabolized by the body. It acculmulates and has been implicated lower test scores and reduced intellect. This news report may explain why NY continues to vote Democrats into office despite the fact that they have bankrupted the state.

  • Concerned

    This doesn’t even begin to get into other sources of lead other than building plumbing. All across the country we have disgusting tap water. How awful.

    Between lead and all the other pollutants that expectant moms and young kids are exposed to in water and in the general food and drink supply, I’m sadly not surprised at the rise in autism (not to mention cancer).

    All these kids weren’t being born with it 20 years ago, and don’t give me that “new kinds of diagnoses” business either. There is some kind of environmental factor causing this.

  • Harry Potash

    I hate to be rude, but that is the most sorry excuse for four ledes that attempt to get me to read a non-story.

  • sezme

    Pb will do it everytime! now we know the root of your insanity!

  • gh

    Well, that explains it. Lead poisoning is known to call all sorts of mental problems; like generally going nuts. It’s long been theorized that the downfall of the Roman Empire had something to do with their lead lined water aqueducts.

    No wonder, New Yorkers are a bit nuts.. especially the politicians.

  • Professor John

    According to the NYC water websiite, we get the best tap water in the world per studies. Now, I understand there could be an issue with old buildings that still use lead pipes however a city wide lead scare? Did someone dump lead into the water supplies? This is very odd indeed.

  • John G

    Must’ve been there a long time. Does much to explain voting patterns.

  • Billy Bad

    Now you know why the liberals running that city do what they do. They are crazy from the lead in the water just like the Roman emperors were. Losers.

  • clarinet

    This explains why there are so many Dumbocrats voting in NYC.

  • angrycdn

    Well this explains everything

  • EKavet

    thankfully, I’m off water

  • Johnny h. facebook

    Not surprised!. i don’t drink tap water at all

  • katmiller

    Isn’t it conicidental that this news is released right after the city replaced our water meters, which has resulted in an increase to our water bills of about 15%. So those og us who are trying to conserve to keep our costs down are now being told we have to ‘let it run’ to avoid becoming ill. This is just another scare tactic to squeeze more money from us.

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