Have You Ever Wondered

  • For drinking and cooking water, let the cold water faucet run for sixty seconds or more to clear water that has been in the pipes and faucet. This helps flush out water with the heaviest lead concentration.
  • For cooking and baby formula preparation, use cold water from your tap or bottled water. Hot water dissolves lead from the pipes more quickly than cold water does. Boiling water doesn't get rid of the lead!
  • To minimize lead in drinking and cooking water, install a water-softening system only on your hot-water faucet. Then for drinking and cooking use the hard water from your cold-water faucet. It won't pick up as much lead as soft water from your hot-water faucet. Use soft water for washing.
  • Use bottled water for cooking and drinking.

As a precaution: The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise lead screening for infants and toddlers at ages one and two. If you have a young child between six months and three years old, talk to your doctor about possible sources of lead in your home or child care setting. As a reminder about lead poisoning and kids, refer to chapter 16. When children test above 10 micrograms per deciliter, sources of lead in the child's environment should be identified and corrected, according to the CDC.

Another alert: If your water supplier alerts you to nitrate or nitrite levels that exceed EPA standards and if you have a child under six months of age, talk to your healthcare provider. Ingesting that water could cause "blue baby syndrome," which can be life-threatening without immediate medical attention. The symptoms are a bluish skin tone and shortness of breath.

Find a different and safe water source for preparing baby formula. Nitrates are inorganic and can't be destroyed as bacteria can be. As with lead, boiling water just concentrates nitrates and so increases the risk.

Water may become unsafe to drink for other reasons. Be aware of water alerts during natural disasters. Sanitize your refrigerator's icemaker and water disperser regularly, according to appliance guidelines.

For more about food and water safety, refer to chapter 12.

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