Lead in Drinking Water


Governor's Directive on Lead

On May 2, 2016, Governor Inslee issued Directive 16-06 (the directive) in response to the growing concerns about lead being found in drinking water in schools and homes across Washington State.

Reducing Lead Exposure in Drinking Water

  • If you have not used your water for several hours, run the tap until the water is noticeably colder. This helps flush out any lead that may accumulate in stagnant water.
  • Use only cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula. Hot water may contain higher levels of lead.
  • Clean the screens and aerators in faucets frequently to remove captured lead particles.
  • Use only certified “lead free” piping and materials for plumbing when building or remodeling.

Health Effects

To learn about the health effects of lead on you and your family, visit our Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention page, or King County's Lead and Toxics Program webpage.

How Lead Gets Into Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water usually comes from water distribution lines or household plumbing rather than lakes, wells, or streams. Lead from other sources, such as ingesting old paint chips or dust, can contribute to children's overall lead exposure. Learn about other sources of lead.

Measuring Lead in Drinking Water

Lead may be present in your home drinking water if:

  • There are lead pipes, brass fixtures, or lead connectors in your home or community water system.
  • Lead solder was used on your home water pipes.
  • You have soft water (low mineral content) or acidic water.

The only way to know the amount of lead in your household water is to have your water tested. Many certified labs (PDF) in Washington perform these tests for $25 to $50 per test.

Drinking Water Regulations

The Washington State Department of Health requires public water systems to:

  • Collect samples from residential customers.
  • Treat the water when more than 10 percent of samples exceed the action level (0.015 parts per million).
  • Provide annual public education to all consumers when the water system exceeds the action level for lead.

For More Information

Southwest Region, Tumwater: 360-236-3030

Northwest Region, Kent: 253-395-6750

Eastern Region, Spokane Valley: 509-329-2100

General Drinking Water Information: 1-800-521-0323

Department of Health's Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program: 1-800-909-9898

More Resources