Questions & Answers

Does the Village test for lead in my drinking water?
The Village of Arlington Heights water supply has consistently tested below maximum acceptable lead levels since the Village began sampling for lead under the LCR. Every three years, Public Works personnel sample and test for lead in the Public Water Supply by collecting and analyzing 30 samples throughout the community. Sampling last occurred in 2014 with the 90th percentile level recorded at 2.9 ppb. This amount is lower than the action level of 15.0 ppb. Results from the Village’s water sampling can be viewed in the Arlington Heights Water Quality Report.

What are Poly Orthophosphates?
Phosphates have many uses in the treatment of potable (drinking) water. They are primarily used to prevent various minerals such as lead, iron and manganese (which can be found in older forms of piping) from dissolving into the drinking water that is delivered to consumers. This is achieved by the phosphate creating a barrier (lining) on the insides of the pipes that reduces the contact of water with lead pipe.

Should I drink bottled water instead of tap water?
No, not if you have access to treated tap water. Lake Michigan is a great source of drinking water and the water undergoes treatment overseen by qualified water plant operators and laboratory personnel. Tap water is highly regulated, and is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than bottled water.

How will I know if I have a lead service line?
A homeowner can look at the pipe material prior to the water meter to determine the type of pipe used. Lead pipe will have a grey color whereas copper pipe is dark orange in color. Another method of knowing is scratching the pipe with a coin. If it is lead, the scratched area will turn bright silver.

What can residents do to minimize lead exposure in drinking water?
Use only cold water for drinking, cooking and making baby formula as lead is less likely to leach into cold water as opposed to hot or warm water. Similarly, running your water for a few minutes after times of no use such as first thing in the morning, after returning from work or after returning from a vacation is recommended. The goal is to use water that has not been sitting in your pipes for a significant period of time.

Does replacing my water meter increase the lead in my drinking water?
No.  Properties in the Village of Arlington Heights have shutoff valves on either side of the meters, replacing the meter will not increase levels of lead in your water supply.

What are the health impacts of lead?
Lead can impact almost every organ and system in your body. Exposure to high lead levels can severely impair mental function and damage the kidneys. Pregnant and nursing women and children under the age of six are most vulnerable. Additional information is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the USEPA, the most likely exposure to lead is from paint. Intake is usually caused by swallowing lead paint chips or breathing in lead paint dust.

Where does lead come from?

Lead Service Lines

Services lines that connect your home to the Village’s water main. The buffalo box is the valve which is located outside the building or home and is generally in the parkway. By Village code the service line from the building or home to the shut off valve, sometimes called the buffalo box, is the property owner’s responsibility. The service line beyond the buffalo box to the point of connection to the Village’s water main is the responsibility of the Village. The Village also maintains the buffalo box itself. (Diagram below of a typical water service line)

In homes built prior to 1960, the service line was constructed of lead pipe. Between 1960 and 1980 plumbers began using copper rather than lead, but some lead pipes were still installed. All water service lines to homes built after 1980 were constructed of copper. A homeowner can look at the pipe material prior to the water meter to determine the type of pipe used. Lead pipe will have a grey color whereas copper pipe is dark orange in color.

If the water main was replaced on your block, the service line from the water main to the shutoff valve in the parkway may have been replaced with copper pipe. However, the homeowner's portion of the service line, from the house to the shutoff valve, may still consist of a lead material if the home was constructed before 1980 unless a new line was installed as part of remodeling, teardown, or other utility improvement.

Lead Solder
Solder is used to connect metal piping (pictured below). In 1987, lead solder was banned from use in household plumbing. If your house was built before 1987, your plumbing may have lead solder.

Brass Faucets, Valves and Fittings

Almost all faucets, valves and fittings have brass components. Until 2014, brass faucets and fittings sold in the U.S. and labeled "Lead-free" could contain up to 8 % lead. Effective January 2014, The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act specifies that these materials may not contain more than 0.25% lead.