Elevated Lead Levels Found in Amsterdam Drinking Water

Amsterdam city officials are out with an advisory about elevated lead levels in the city's drinking water.

Officials with the city's Water Treatment Plant say recent monitoring has found higher-than-normal lead levels in drinking water in some homes and buildings.  Water samples taken back in May now show lead at 16 parts per billion---one part per billion over the level the EPA has determined to be safe.  

As a result, the city will hold a public meeting next Monday evening at the Common Council chambers. Officials will talk about what happened, what the city has done, and plans for the future to return to compliance.



Recent drinking water quality monitoring conducted by The City of Amsterdam Water Treatment Plant has found elevated levels of lead in drinking water in some homes/buildings in The City of Amsterdam. Although the primary sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint and lead contaminated dust or soil, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10 to 20 percent of a person’s potential exposure to lead may come from drinking water.

The City of Amsterdam is concerned about the health of their residents because lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources, especially for pregnant women and young children. 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. 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.

WHAT HAPPENED?An exceedance of the Action Level prescribed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was discovered on May 11, 2018 when our most current sampling resulted in our 90th percentile sample being one part per billion over the action level of 15 parts per billion. For reference, one part per billion is equal to one penny in ten million dollars. As a result, we are required to conduct public education activities such as press releases, mailings and website postings.

There are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in your water.

 Run your water to flush out lead. Run water for 15-30 seconds to flush lead from interior plumbing or until it becomes cold or reached a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking, if it hasn’t been used for several hours.

 Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula.

 Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.

 Look for alternative drinking water sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter.

 Test your water for lead. Call us at (518) 843-3009 to find out how to get your water tested for lead. Currently the city tests 60 locations every 6 months. If you are interested in being put on a waiting list to participate,please let us know. You may also call 518-402-7650 or visit the following website to participate in a free testing program offered through the New York State Department of Health: https://health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/lead/free_lead_testing_pilot_program.htm

 Get your child’s blood tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure.

 Identify and replace plumbing fixtures containing lead. There are several actions the The City of AmsterdamWater Treatment Plant is taking to address this lead in drinking water concern:

 Increased monitoring for lead and copper is continuing with the next sampling in August or September

 Water quality parameter testing is being conducted to look at overall water chemistry

 A corrosion control optimization study is underway by an independent engineering firm to determine if ourcurrent treatment mechanism is the most efficient.

Call Amsterdam Water Treatment Plant at 518-843-3009 or visit the water treatment section of the City of Amsterdamwebsite at: https://www.amsterdamny.gov/residents/environment/water-quality to find out how to get your water tested for lead or for more information on steps the City of Amsterdam is taking to address the lead action level exceedance. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead,visit EPA’s Website at www.epa.gov/lead or contact your health care provider.

photo:  Getty Images

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