Lead and Drinking Water

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What is Lead?

Lead is a heavy metal found throughout the environment in lead-based paints, air, soil, household dust, food and water. Lead can pose a significant risk to your health if too much lead enters your body. The greatest risk is to young children and pregnant women.

Lead and Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead poisoning, can significantly increase a person’s total lead exposure. Lead enters drinking water primarily from the corrosion or wearing away of material containing lead in water service lines and household plumbing. While Albany's water mains do not contain lead, the water service line running from the water main to your home may be made of lead, especially if your house was built before 1940.

Albany’s Water Treatment

To prevent the corrosion of lead materials in the water distribution system, the Albany Water Department (AWD) uses corrosion control treatment for our drinking water. As mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the NYS Department of Health, AWD completes tap water lead testing from a sampling of Albany households every three years. In the latest sampling conducted in 2018 and in previous years, AWD has been in compliance with at least 90% of samples below the action level for lead and copper.

Learn more about water quality from our Annual Water Quality Report.

Actions You Can Take

Despite our use of corrosion control treatment and the testing of tap water from select households, lead levels can be high in some homes and buildings due to lead-based plumbing components or other factors. To find out whether you need to take action in your home, have your drinking water tested and learn more on how to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.    

Contact AWD with any questions at 518-434-5300 or water@albanyny.gov

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FREE tap water lead testing is available from the NYS Department of Health