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Property Owners - Lead and Copper

Lead & Copper Rule (LCR)
The LCR was developed to protect public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water. The most common source of lead and copper in drinking water is corrosion of plumbing materials. Plumbing materials that can be made with lead and copper include pipes, solder, fixtures, and faucets.

The LCR established action levels of 0.015 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1.3 mg/L (1300 ppb) for copper based on the 90th percentile level of tap water samples. This means no more than 10 percent of samples can be greater than either action level. If lead or copper levels are found above the action levels, it does not signal a violation but can trigger other requirements that include water quality parameter (WQP) monitoring, corrosion control treatment (CCT) recommendation/installation, source water monitoring/treatment, public education, and lead service line replacement. 

Protecting Public Health
Children are especially susceptible to lead and copper exposure because their bodies absorb these metals at higher rates than the average adult. Children younger than six are most at risk due to their rapid rate of growth. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys. Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause low IQ, hearing impairment, reduced attention span, and poor classroom performance. Exposure to high levels of copper can cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver or kidney damage, and complications of Wilson’s disease in genetically predisposed people.

Because children spend so much time in school and child care facilities and their bodies are developing rapidly, it is important to provide safe drinking water to avoid health problems linked to lead or copper exposure.

High lead levels in adults have been linked to increased blood-pressure. Pregnant women and their fetuses are especially vulnerable to lead exposure since lead can significantly harm the fetus, causing lower birth weight and slowing down normal mental and physical development.

For more about the health effects of lead in drinking water please visit the Vermont Department of Health (http://healthvermont.gov/enviro/lead/lead_water.aspx)

Reducing Your Exposure to Lead in Drinking Water
Don’t forget about other sources of lead such as lead paint, lead dust, and lead in soil. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come into contact with dirt and dust containing 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 several hours. 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. Look for alternative sources or treatment of water. 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-NSF-8010 or www.nsf.org for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality.
  5. Test your water for lead.
  6. Get your child tested. Visit the Vermont Department of Health Website for lead to learn more about children and lead or contact your healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure.
  7. Identify if your plumbing fixtures contain lead. New brass faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may contribute lead to drinking water. Vermont law currently restricts the sale of plumbing fixtures not considered to be “essentially” lead free. To learn more about this new law, visit the Vermont Attorney General’s Office Website for lead.

Additional Information for Residents and Private Property Owners

Additional Information for Users on Public Water Systems (you receive a bill for your water or live in a building where your landlord pays for it)

Additional Information for Certified Operators of Regulated Public Water Systems

General Lead and Copper Additional Resources


drinkingwater.vermont.gov   groundwater.vermont.gov   septic.vermont.gov wastewater.vermont.gov
VT DEC Drinking Water and Groundwater Protection Division 1 National Life Drive, Main Building, 2nd Floor  Montpelier, VT  05620-3521
Telephone 802-828-1535    Fax: 802-828-1541

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