"NYC Water is safe and healthy to drink," said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Cas Holloway. "DEP carefully monitors water quality at the city's 19 upstate reservoirs and at nearly 1,000 sampling stations within the distribution system to determine if any contaminants, such as lead, are present. We conduct 500,000 tests each year, and they show that our water supply is virtually lead free.
But Holloway says some older buildings in the city have lead pipes, or pipes with lead fixtures, which can impact the tap water of private homes by introducing lead into water that has been sitting in the pipes for several hours or more.
Reducing the possibility of exposure to lead in drinking water, he says, is simple and inexpensive: run the tap for at least 30 seconds, until the water is noticeably colder, before drinking, cooking or making baby formula.
Lead poisoning is a preventable health problem and young children are at greatest risk, health experts say. Lead poisoning may cause learning and behavior problems as well as delays in growth and development in children.
In New York City and across the country, peeling lead paint in homes is the primary cause of lead poisoning. Landlords must inspect and safely repair peeling paint if a young child lives at a residence.
Blood lead levels in children have been dropping precipitously over the past several years. Since 1995, there has been a 93 percent drop in the number of children with elevated blood lead levels from 19,232 cases in 1995 to 1,387 cases in 2009.