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Although it is a common element, if too much lead enters your body it can pose a health risk. Lead builds up in the body over many years. The effects of lead are not evident in adults immediately. However, infants and children, as well as the unborn, are at risk because the effects of lead show up much more quickly in them and can have an adverse effect on their helath.

There are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of lead in your drinking water. This is especially the case if your home or building where you live has old lead pipes or is more than 5 years old. Levels of lead are higher if your home or water system has lead pipes or if you have copper pipes using lead solder.

1. If water has not been turned on in your home for 4-5 hours, let the water run before using it for cooking or drinking. Running the water until it is cold, about 2 minutes, will remove standing water which has been sitting in the pipes.

2. Do not use hot water form the faucet when making baby formula or cooking. Hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold. It is safer to boil cold water on the stove.

If you live in an old home or building and are concerned about the lead content of your water, the sure way to find outthe level of lead is to have your water tested. Call your local water company or environmental agency for a list of approved labs for this purpose. The cost is generally less than $50.