Post navigation

Prev: (04/21/16) | Next: (04/21/16)

Lead concerns prompt Seattle warning on drinking water in city’s old houses

Seattle Public Utilities is asking residents living in older homes across the city to let tap water run before drinking it amid concerns about lead in old city pipes.

Thursday’s warning affects about 2,000 houses around Seattle built between the 1920s and 1950s, KIRO reported.

The specific recommendation? Run tap water for a few minutes — “especially if water sits stagnant for six hours.”

The warning comes after high levels of lead were found in four Tacoma homes tested following the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Galvanized iron pipes used in the old homes is a likely source for any contamination.

KIRO also reports that Seattle Public Utilities will test water at a small number of Seattle homes serviced by galvanized lines to determine if elevated levels are present. The testing results could be available within five days. SPU will also be providing a full list of homes serviced by galvanized pipes, according to KIRO.

While at a much smaller scale than the Flint contamination where lead pipes play a larger role in the water system, the Tacoma findings have concerned officials — especially since the contamination was identified in water taken from pipes around — not inside — the homes. The Tacoma News Tribune has documented how the testing in that city was done here. Lead “gooseneck” pipes in the Tacoma system could also have played a role and were replaced with copper fittings at the tested homes, the TNT reports.

Though many of the neighborhoods have been swept by ongoing waves of development, much of the city’s remaining stock of old homes can be found from the north of Capitol Hill along its eastern edge into Madison Valley and the Central District.

We’re checking with SPU to find out if the warning extends to remaining apartment buildings built during the same era.

High lead levels can be a serious health concern — especially for children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe level of lead in drinking water:

No safe blood level has been identified and all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated. Lead concentrations in drinking water should be below the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s action level of 15 parts per billion.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

4 thoughts on “Lead concerns prompt Seattle warning on drinking water in city’s old houses

  1. I imagine they aren’t as concerned about old apartment buildings since the water would rarely sit stagnant in the pipes because more people are using the water more often.

  2. I’m curious why they start at 1920. Many of the homes in our part of Cap Hill were built in the era from 1900-1920, so I wonder what our water lines are like. Our house was built in 1904 and while there have been major updates by previous owners to the house itself, I have no idea how to tell what the water lines are like coming from the street.