Lead Information

Updated November 24, 2023

Dowagiac has exceeded the action level for lead. Lead can cause serious health and development problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Please read this information closely to see what you can do to reduce lead in your drinking water.

This notice is brought to you by Dowagiac. 
Public Water Supply Identification Number (PWSID): MI0001860  
Distribution Date: November 13, 2023

Health Effects of Lead
Lead can cause serious health and development problems. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development. Although other sources of lead exposure exist, such as lead paint, and lead contaminated dust, Dowagiac is contacting you to reduce your risk of exposure to lead in drinking water. If you have questions about other sources of lead exposure, please contact the Van Buren Cass District Health Department at 269-621-3143 x1311.

Sources of Lead
Lead is a common metal found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of lead exposure due to the widespread use of lead in plumbing materials. EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person’s potential exposure to lead. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 percent to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.

The action level is 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 1.3 parts per million (ppm) for copper. The action level is a measure of corrosion control effectiveness. It is not a health-based standard. To meet the requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule, 90 percent of the samples collected must be below the action level. The following table summarizes the lead and copper data collected during the most recent monitoring period:

2022 Sampling Information and Recalculations
Lead Chart

Lead can enter drinking water when pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain lead corrode. Corrosion is the dissolving, or wearing away, of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Several factors affect the amount of lead that enters the water, including the water quality characteristics (acidity and alkalinity), the amount of lead in the pipes, plumbing and/or fixtures, and the frequency of water use in the home.

Some plumbing products such as service lines, pipes and fixtures may contain lead. The infographic below demonstrates where sources of lead in drinking water could be in your home. Older homes may have more lead unless the service line and/or plumbing has been replaced.  Homes built…
⦁    Before the 1960s are more likely to have lead service lines, lead pipes, fixtures, and/or solder that contain lead.
⦁    Before 1988 are likely to have fixtures and/or solder that contains lead. 
⦁    Between 1996 and 2014 are likely to have fixtures that contain up to eight percent lead but were labelled “lead-free.”
⦁    In 2014 or later still have potential lead exposure. “Lead free” was redefined to reduce lead content to a maximum of 0.25 percent lead in fixtures and fittings. Fixtures that are certified to meet NSF Standard 61 meet this more restrictive definition of “lead free.” 
Leaded solder and leaded fittings and fixtures are still available in stores to use for non-drinking water applications. Be careful to select the appropriate products for repairing or replacing drinking water plumbing in your home.

Galvanized plumbing can be a potential source of lead. Galvanized plumbing can absorb lead from upstream sources like a lead service line. Even after the lead service line has been removed, galvanized plumbing can continue to release lead into drinking water over time. Homes that are served by a lead service line should consider replacing galvanized plumbing inside the home.

Drinking water is only one source of lead exposure. Other common sources of lead exposure are lead-based paint, and lead-contaminated dust or soil. Because lead can be carried on hands, clothing, and/or shoes, sources of exposure to lead can include the workplace and certain hobbies. Wash your children’s hands and toys often as they can come in contact with dirt and dust containing lead. In addition, lead can be found in certain types of pottery, pewter, food, and cosmetics. If you have questions about other sources of lead exposure, please contact the Van Buren Cass District Health Department at 269-621-3143 x1311.

Particulate Lead
Lead results can vary between tests. A single test result is not a reliable indicator of drinking water safety. Two different types of lead can be present in drinking water, soluble lead and particulate lead. Soluble lead is lead that dissolves because of a chemical reaction between water and plumbing that contains lead. Particulate lead is dislodged scale and sediment released into the water from the sides of the plumbing and can vary greatly between samples. Disturbances, such as replacing a water meter, construction and excavation activities, or home plumbing repairs can cause particulates to shake free from inside pipes and plumbing. Particulate lead is a concern because the lead content can be very high. Lead particulate could be present in a single glass of water, but not present in water sampled just before or after. During construction, monthly aerator cleaning and using a filter certified to reduce lead are recommended to reduce particulate lead exposure. 

Check whether your home has a lead service line. 
Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. Please contact the City of Dowagiac’s Public Water and Sewer Department, 269-782-2195, for more information about your home’s service line.

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Your Exposure to Lead in Your Water

1. Run your water to flush out lead. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Therefore, if your water has not been used for several hours, run the water before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes.  
⦁    If you do not have a lead service line, run the water for 30 seconds to two minutes, or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature. 
⦁    If you do have a lead service line, run the water for at least five minutes to flush water from both the interior building plumbing and the lead service line.  
Additional flushing may be required for homes that have been vacant or have a longer service line. Your water utility can help you determine if longer flushing times are needed. 

2. Everyone can consider using a filter to reduce lead in drinking water. 
MDHHS recommends every household use a certified lead filter to reduce lead from their drinking water, especially households with a child, or a child frequently visits the home, pregnant person, or individual with high blood pressure, or people residing in houses built before 1987.
NSF Circle

Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction and NSF/ANSI Standard 42 for particulate reduction (Class I).  Some filter options include a pour-through pitcher or faucet-mount systems. If the label does not specifically mention lead reduction, check the Performance Data Sheet included with the device. Be sure to maintain and replace the filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality.  

3. Use cold water for drinking and cooking. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. 

4. Use cold water for preparing baby formula. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula. If you have a lead service line, consider using bottled water or a filter certified to reduce lead to prepare baby formula.

5. Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead levels.

6. Consider purchasing bottled water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water. The bottled water standard for lead is 5 ppb.

7. Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about exposure. Van Buren Cass District Health Department, eh@vbcassdhd.org, 269-621-3143 x1311. 

8. Identify older plumbing fixtures that likely contain lead. Older faucets, fittings, and valves sold before 2014 may contain higher levels of lead, even if marked “lead-free.” Faucets, fittings, and valves sold after January 2014 are required to meet a more restrictive “lead-free” definition but may still contain up to 0.25 percent lead. When purchasing new plumbing materials, it is important to look for materials that are certified to meet NSF standard 61. The EPA prepared a brochure that explains the various markings that can indicate that materials meet the new “lead free” definition: https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P100LVYK.txt.

9. Clean your aerator. The aerator on the end of your faucet is a screen that will catch debris. This debris could include particulate lead. The aerator should be removed at least every six months to rinse out any debris.

10. Test your water for lead. Call the City of Dowagiac at 269-782-2195 to learn about resources to get your water tested for lead. 

What Happened? What is Being Done?
A recent review by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has resulted in a re-evaluation of the city of Dowagiac’s 2022 lead and copper compliance.  Additional documentation provided during EPA’s review and a follow-up investigation by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) found that four homes sampled between June and September 2022 did not meet the site selection criteria specified in the Safe Drinking Water Act.  Therefore, samples collected from these sites cannot be used for compliance and the 90th percentile has been recalculated. 

The original compliance calculation was based on samples collected from 21 homes and resulted in a lead 90th percentile value of 15 parts per billion (ppb).  The recalculated lead 90th percentile is based on samples collected from the remaining 17 homes and resulted in a 90th percentile value of 17 ppb, which exceeds the Action Level of 15 ppb.

With this recalculation, Dowagiac is sharing ways you can reduce your exposure to lead since lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water and other sources.  Every customer should be aware of possible sources of lead, how it gets into drinking water, and things you can do to reduce exposure. Lead can enter drinking water when in contact with pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain lead.

Some homes in Dowagiac have lead service lines. Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. Dowagiac is actively removing lead and galvanized service lines within the community.  The current project on Division Street will replace approximately 46 lead service lines. 

Please contact the City of Dowagiac at 269-782-2195 for more information about your home’s service line. 

MDHHS is offering free certified lead-reducing filters and replacement cartridges to eligible households. These criteria are:
⦁    Has a child under the age of 19 on Medicaid who resides in the home, or
⦁    Is a pregnant person on Medicaid.
The City will provide one filter per household served by the City of Dowagiac water utility for those who do not qualify for free MDHHS filters.

Filters can be obtained at:
City of Dowagiac City Hall
241 S. Front Street
Dowagiac, MI
Phone: 269-782-2195
Hours: M-F 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

For More Information
Call us at the City of Dowagiac at 269-782-2195, or visit our website at www.cityofdowagiac.com

If you have questions about
⦁    Service line materials for your home: Dowagiac Customers contact us at 269-782-2195 to learn more about their service line and schedule an inspection. 
⦁    Testing your water for lead: Visit Michigan.gov/EGLElab for a list of certified labs.
⦁    Health related questions: Contact the Van Buren/Cass Community Health Agency at 269-254-7449.
⦁    Operating a food establishment such as a store, restaurant, bar, or food manufacturing establishment: Visit this page Michigan.gov/mdardleadinfo for specific information for food firms.
⦁    Regulatory questions about the Safe Drinking Water Act: Contact EGLE at 800-662-9278.
Pokagon Health Services is also providing support for Pokagon Band Citizens.  Please contact Pokagon Health Services at 269-782-4141.

Additional information available at Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe or Michigan.gov/EGLEleadpublicadvisory. For more information on reducing lead exposure around your home/building and the health effects of lead, visit EPA’s Web site at Epa.gov/lead, call the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD, or contact your healthcare provider.
source of lead