Lead Awareness

The City of Rock Island recognizes the recent issues of lead around the nation. We understand that the issue of lead in water supplies is always of concern, especially for pregnant women and children.

Rock Island’s water is tested for lead according to federal standards, and during the last testing cycle, our results were below the US Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of no more than fifteen parts per billion.

​Lead does not come from the treatment plants and water mains; it comes from homes with a lead service line running between the water main in the street and the home, and from plumbing inside the home.

Diagram House and Water Service Line_001

In our community, to protect our water supply from potential lead contamination, a low-level corrosion inhibitor is added to the water. This additive prevents the dissolving of lead (from home plumbing materials) into the water. We also routinely test for lead in the drinking water at identified high-risk homes. The City of Rock Island is responsible for providing high quality drinking water but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components in each home.

When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking. Residents concerned about lead in the water may wish to have their water privately tested.

While the City of Rock Island does not endorse or recommend any particular testing labs, the following are available locally: 
​     Quad City Analytical (563-289-3373) provides non-certified testing for residential homes. 
​     PDC (309-683-1743) provides certified testing for residential homes.

​The City of Rock Island would like to remind and assure residents that the drinking water supplied to residents and businesses in the community is safe and rigorously tested on an ongoing basis. Rock Island’s water supply meets all Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards and has consistently met these standards for years.

What is lead?

​Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead can be found in air, soil, dust, food, and water. 

How can I be exposed to lead?

​The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978. Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, lead also can be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10 to 20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water. 

What are the risks of lead exposure?

​Lead can cause a variety of adverse health effects when people are exposed to it. These effects may include increases in the blood pressure of some adults; delays in normal physical and mental development in babies and young children; and, deficits in the attention span, hearing, and learning abilities in children. 

How does lead get into my drinking water?

​Lead is rarely found naturally in our source water or in the treated water flowing through the distribution system. More commonly, lead leaches into water over time through corrosion – a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets (brass) and fittings. The amount of lead in your water depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the water’s corrosivity, and water temperature. 

I’m concerned my home may have lead plumbing.  How can I find out?

​If you’re concerned your home plumbing may contain lead pipes (lead is a dull gray metal that is soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key) or if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water), you may want to have your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Testing is the only way to confirm if lead is present or absent. 

​Will my water utility replace my lead service line?

​Lead service lines on a customer’s property are not part of the public water system and are the responsibility of the property owner.  Lead service lines are owned and installed at the expense of the property owner. The City of Rock Island strongly advises that you contact a licensed plumber for work on your service line. 

How can I reduce my exposure to lead in my drinking water?

​There are many steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water: 

Run your water to flush out lead. If it hasn’t been used for several hours, run the water for three to five minutes to clear        most of the lead from the water. To conserve water, remember to catch the flushed tap water for plants or some other household use such as cleaning. 
​Always use cold water for drinking, cooking, and preparing baby formula. Never cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Never use water from the hot water tap to make formula. 
​Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead. 
​Periodically remove and clean the faucet screen/aerator. While removed, run the water to eliminate debris. 

​Should I test my children for exposure to lead?

​Children at risk of exposure to lead should be tested. Your doctor or local health center can perform a simple blood test to determine your child’s blood-lead level. 

​Additional Information

American Water Works Association  
CDC’s Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program 
CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Data, Statistics, and Surveillance 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 


​National Lead Information Center: 800-424-LEAD 
​EPA ​Safe Drinking Water Hotline: 800-426-4791