HAMPDEN, Maine — For the second time this year, Hampden Water District officials are warning homeowners about the threat of lead.
The district has been dealing with lead issues off and on for several years and has been sampling town water every six months, according to Michelle Gushue, the water district’s lead and copper coordinator. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, if water comes back with lead levels higher than 46 parts per3/8 billion, it is considered elevated.
In January and again in June, several homes in Hampden had elevated lead, according to the samples.
Most often, elevated levels emerge from water that sits in tanks and pipes for extended periods of time. Lead often leaches from lead-based solder and some plumbing fixtures that are made with lead.
Homes that were constructed after 1986 should not contain any lead solder, based on state laws, but Gushue said it doesn’t mean newer homes are not at risk. The easiest way to combat any contamination is to run water for several seconds before drinking it, she said.
The Hampden Water District has been developing a corrosion control program that adds chemicals to water to help coat pipes so that lead will not leach.
Lead poses several health threats, including damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells. Children and pregnant women are at the highest risk.
Information about potential risks is available from the Hampden Water District at 862-3490 or by calling the state of Maine’s Drinking Water Program at 287-2070.
Gushue said homeowners can test their water if they have concerns about lead levels. Tests are available for approximately $30 through Northeast Laboratory Services of Waterville at 800-244-8378 or through the state’s Health Engineering Lab in Augusta at 287-2727.