How can I prevent being exposed to lead in my water?

Flush your pipes before using your water if it has sat for more than 6 hours. 
 If you have not used your water for several hours, flushing your pipes may reduce the amount of soluble (dissolved) lead in your drinking water. To flush the pipes in your home, do any of the following for at least five minutes:

  • Turn a cold water faucet on all the way and let it run.
  • Take a shower.
  • Run a load of laundry.
  • Run your dishwasher.

Before using the water from any specific faucet for drinking or cooking, run the cold water again until goes from room temperature to cold. This flushes out any water that had been sitting in that sink’s pipes and faucet.

Use a certified filter or bottled water.   

Properly maintained and installed filters are proven to reduce lead in water. Both particulate and soluble lead can be safely removed from drinking water by using a certified water filter. 

Free filters are available to city of Benton Harbor residents.  

Free filters are available to city of Benton Harbor residents through the Berrien County Health Department. Call 844.875.9211 or visit the Berrien County Health Department at 2149 E. Napier Ave. from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday or the Center for Better Health at 100 W. Main St. from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Both locations are in Benton Harbor, and neither requires appointments.  

If you decide to purchase your own filter, be sure the packaging says the filter is certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction and certified for NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate reduction (Class I).

Proper filter installation and maintenance are essential. 

Properly installation and maintenance are essential for the filter to work properly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to install the filter and maintain it. If you need assistance installing your filter, call the Berrien County Health Department at 844.875.9211. 

Use cold filtered water or bottled water for:

Drinking, cooking, making baby formula, rinsing foods, brushing teeth and for pets. It is OK to warm the cold filtered water as needed.

Do not use hot water for drinking or cooking.

Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Instead, use cold water and heat. 

It’s okay to use water that’s not filtered or flushed for:

Showering and bathing. Avoid swallowing the water if lead is a concern.

Washing your hands, dishes and clothes, as well as for cleaning.

Don’t try to remove lead by boiling the water.

It won’t work. Water evaporates during boiling, so levels of lead in the water may end up higher than before boiling.

Clean the aerators on your faucets once per week.

Aerators (the mesh screens on your sink faucet) can trap pieces of particulate lead. Clean your drinking water faucet aerator at least once a week. Learn how to clean an aerator here:

If there is construction or repairs to the public water system or pipes near your home, clean your drinking water faucet aerator more frequently. 

Replace plumbing, pipes, and faucets that may add lead into your drinking water.

Older faucets, fittings and valves sold before 2014 may contain up to 8% lead, even if marked “lead-free.” Replace faucets with those made in 2014 or later and are certified to contain 0.25% lead or less.

Show All Answers

1. What is lead?
2. How can I be exposed to lead?
3. How does lead get into drinking water?
4. How can I prevent being exposed to lead in my water?
5. Why does flushing the water before drinking make it safe?
6. What are some of the health problems lead can cause?
7. Where can I get my child’s blood tested for lead?
8. What does an "elevated blood lead level" mean?
9. Should I have my child tested for lead?
10. Where can I go to get my water tested?
11. Will it cost me anything to get my water tested for lead?
12. What else is the Berrien County Health Department doing?
13. What is a lead service line?
14. How do I know if I have a lead service line going to my house?
15. Where can I go to find more information?