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Limiting the risk

Lead poisoning is far more likely to come from exposure to lead paint than lead in drinking water, but infants and young children are typically more vulnerable to lead than the general population and could experience delays in their physical or mental development if they are exposed to high lead levels. Adults who drink such water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure.

To avoid exposure:

Run tap water until it feels cold.

Don't use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking, especially when making baby formula or food for infants. Hot water is more likely to leach lead from the pipes.

Buy plumbing fixtures that have zero- or low-lead levels. Brass fixtures typically contain lead.

Ask your local water department whether there are lead service pipes leading to your home. Each community has a different program to replace private lead service pipes. Boston, for example, gives homeowners $1,000 toward the estimated $2,000 cost of replacing lead pipes that run into their homes.

If you are concerned:

You can test your tap water. Contact the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority at 617-242-5323, or check its website, www.mwra.state.ma.us, for a list of certified labs.

For more information on lead in drinking water:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health -- 800-532-9571, or go to www.mass.gov/dph.

EPA Lead Information -- www.epa.gov/lead/leadinfo.htm

CDC Lead Information -- www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/lead.htm

SOURCE: MWRA

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