If any of your fixtures tested at or above 2.01 ppb or greater, you need to take immediate action to ensure children at your facility have a safe drinking water supply.
The temporary strategies below will help you decide the best actions to take to immediately address lead in drinking water. Share with parents and staff which immediate actions you take and record these actions in your mitigation plan.
After taking immediate action to provide children at your facility with a safe drinking water supply, you will need to plan for and implement long-term strategies to reduce the lead in your water to below 2.01 ppb. Visit the Long-Term Mitigation Strategies page for information on long-term solutions.
Place a “Do Not Drink” or “Handwashing Only” sign at each water fixture where lead levels are at or above 2.01 ppb. This strategy is a low-cost way to take immediate action at problem fixtures. It will also allow you to continue to use the fixture for handwashing purposes.
The drawback of this approach is that it doesn’t remove the source of lead and relies on your staff and children to follow the “Do Not Drink” instructions. This strategy may not be appropriate at drinking water sources frequently used by children who are unable to read. Also, if you post “Do Not Drink” signage at one of your main drinking water sources, you will want to educate staff on why these signs are in place. If you post signage at a drinking water fountain, you may also need to find an alternative source of drinking water for your children such as bottled water or a drinking water station.
Temporarily shut off the water supply at problem fixtures. This can be done by closing the on/off valve of your water fixture. This action may be preferred if you have a particularly high lead result at a fixture. If you temporarily remove a fixture from service, you will need to designate a staff member to regularly flush the water at the outlet and maintain a flushing log. This log should include the date of flushing, name or initials of the person performing the flushing, and any observations or notes. You may also need to find an alternative drinking water source if the fixture is a main drinking water source for your children.
Install an NSF/ANSI 53 and 42 certified filter at problem fixtures. A filter with these certifications meets strict standards to reduce lead in drinking water (NSF 53) and to help with particulate lead reduction (NSF 42). The advantage of using filters at problem fixtures is that they ensure lead levels are low. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using filters, assign a staff person to conduct regular and timely filter replacements, and maintain a log.
Various types of NSF 53 and 42 filters include: faucet mount, fridge, under-sink, and countertop. You can also purchase water pitchers and water bottle filling stations with an NSF 53 and 42 filter. Please note that you will need to hire an Illinois licensed plumber if you choose to install a water bottle filling station, under-sink filter, or countertop filter.
If your test results showed that your 30 second flush sample is below 2.01 ppb, flushing, or running the water, at problem fixtures can help lower lead levels. Start each day with a flush at each problem fixture and flush each fixture for 30 seconds before each use. Flushing is only a temporary solution because you rely on staff to make a behavior change (running water before each use). To help remind staff of this behavior change, place instructions above each fixture where flushing is recommended.
In extenuating circumstances, your facility may consider using bottled water for cooking and drinking as a mitigation action, especially if many drinking water sources contain lead. Although bottled water is expensive and not ideal, it could help provide a safe drinking water source for your children if other mitigation options are unavailable. Note that you will need approval from DCFS to use bottled water. The US EPA also recommends you ask for a written statement from the bottled water provider, “guaranteeing that the bottled water meets FDA and state standards.” You should also check that the bottled water has been certified by an independent testing organization and ensure that the bottled water is sealed.
When using bottled water, it is important to routinely flush or run the water at drinking and cooking water sources that are not in use. Flushing your water will help prevent lead from building up in your pipes.