Important Information About Lead In Your Drinking Water

This notice is brought to you by:
Alfred University State Water System ID# NY0220582

Date: 10/7/2021

Alfred University found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes/buildings. Lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and children 6 years and younger. Please read this notice closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.

Health Effects of Lead

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.  The Environmental Protection Administration advises that the maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) for lead is zero.  EPA has set this level based on the best available science which shows there is no safe level of exposure to lead.

Sources of Lead

Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure. The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint. Other sources of lead exposure include lead-contaminated dust or soil, and some plumbing materials. In addition, lead can be found in a number of consumer products, including certain types of pottery, pewter, brass fixtures, food, and cosmetics. Other sources include exposure in the work place (jobs that include house painting, plumbing, renovation, construction, auto repair, welding, electronics repair, jewelry or pottery repair) and exposure from certain hobbies (such as stained glass or pottery, fishing, making or shooting firearms and collecting lead or pewter figurines), as lead can be carried on clothing and shoes. Children’s hands or their toys can come into contact with lead in paint, dust and soil. Therefore, washing children’s hands and their toys will help reduce the potential for lead exposure from these sources.

Plumbing materials, including pipes, new brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law currently allows pipes, fittings, and fixtures with up to 0.25 percent weighted average of lead to be identified as “lead-free.”

Alfred University’s water system is supplied water by the Village of Alfred. The Village has two supply wells and storage tanks that are tested frequently for regulatory compliance. When water is in contact with pipes [or service lines] or plumbing that contains lead for several hours, the lead may enter drinking water. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have plumbing containing lead. New homes may also have lead; even “lead-free” plumbing may contain some lead.

Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Exposure To Lead In Your Water

  1. Run your water to flush out lead - Run water for 15-30 seconds or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking, if it hasn’t been used for extended periods of time. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes.
  2. Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula - Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
  3. Do not boil water to remove lead - Boiling water will not reduce lead.
  4. Replace your plumbing fixtures if they are found to contain lead - Plumbing materials including brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. The law previously allowed end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, with up to 8 percent lead to be labeled as “lead free.” As of January 4, 2014, end-use brass fixtures, such as faucets, fittings and valves, must meet the new “lead-free” definition of having no more than 0.25 percent lead on a weighted average. Visit the EPA site to learn more about lead-containing plumbing fixtures and how to identify lead-free certification marks on new fixtures.
  5. Use bottled water or use a water filter - If your home is served by a lead service line, and/or if lead containing plumbing materials are found to be in your home, you may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-673-8010 or visit the NSF website for a consumer guide of approved water filters. Be sure to main­tain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality. Any measure you take to reduce your exposure to lead should be continued until the lead source(s) has been minimized or eliminated.

Should you test your water for lead?

If lead-containing plumbing materials are identified in your home, you may want to consider testing your water for lead to determine how much lead is in your drinking water. Call the Allegany County Department of Health at 585-268-9266 to find out how to get your water tested for lead.

Should your child be tested for lead?

New York Public Health Law requires primary health care providers to screen each child for blood lead levels at one and two years of age as part of routine well-child care. In addition, at each routine well-child visit, or at least annually if a child has not had routine well-child visits, primary health care providers assess each child who is at least six-months of age, but under six years of age, for high lead exposure. Each child found to be at risk for high lead exposure is screened or referred for lead screening.

If your child has not had routine well-child visits (since the age of one year) and you are concerned about lead exposure to your child, contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead.

What happened? What is being done?

Alfred University recently began routine on-campus sampling of drinking water following the transfer of responsibility for maintenance of the water infrastructure from the Village of Alfred.  The first routine sampling occurred in December of 2020 and all sample results were below applicable regulatory limits. 

The second routine sampling event occurred in June of this year, approximately 35 days after the buildings were vacated for the summer break. The amount of time that water sits unused can impact sample results. The samples taken were “First Draw” samples, which involves sampling water from faucets immediately upon opening the outlet, without allowing any water to enter the drain. Of the twenty samples taken, five exceeded the action level for public water supplies of 15 parts per billion (ppb). The five samples with results greater than 15ppb were as follows: 17.1 ppb, 217 ppb, 18.4 ppb, 15.4 ppb and 26 ppb. Accordingly, in an effort to evaluate whether the samples from June were impacted by the water sitting unused, the University has already collected new samples at all twenty locations. Each of the twenty new sample results was below the 15ppb limit. 

The University is working cooperatively with the County Health Department to evaluate the situation and to identify what, if any, additional actions are appropriate. We will, of course, keep you informed as those steps become clear. 

More Information

For more information about this notice, please call us at 607-871-2154. For more information on lead in drinking water, contact our local health department:

Allegany County Department of Health
7 Court Street
Belmont, NY 14813
Phone: 585-268-9250 (option 2)
Fax: 585-268-9712

You may also contact the New York State Department of Health directly by calling their toll-free number (within New York State) at 800-458-1158 (extension 27650); or out of state at 518-402-7650; or by email.

For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead, visit the EPA website or call the National Lead Informa­tion Center at 800-424-5323.