PWB: High lead levels in Portland water

FILE - The Bull Run Watershed is the main water supply for the city of Portland. Undated photo. (Portland Tribune)
FILE - The Bull Run Watershed is the main water supply for the city of Portland. Undated photo. (Portland Tribune)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Portland Water Bureau is warning residents to be aware of possible elevated lead levels in their water supply.

The bureau reported Tuesday that recent samples taken at what the agency determines to be high-risk homes found “an elevated presence for lead,” which amounts to 15 parts per billion. The samples were drawn from providers in the Bull Run service area.

The samples consisted of water that had been ‘standing’ in the pipes for several hours, PWB said in a news release.

The testing is done biannually. The Water Bureau said it raises the pH of Bull Run water to try and negate its corrosiveness. However, despite that treatment, the samples still produces high lead levels that required a public notification.

The Water Bureau says the main cause of lead in tap water is the corrosive action of the water on plumbing components which contain lead, such as faucets and lead-based solder.

PWB has provided a list of tips and information to reduce lead exposure:

1.    Run your water to flush the lead out. If the water has not been used for several hours, run each tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until it becomes colder before drinking or cooking.

2.    Use cold, fresh water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more easily into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.

3.    Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.

4.    Consider using a filter. Check whether it reduces lead – not all filters do. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality. Contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or for information on performance standards for water filters.

5. Test your child for lead. Ask your physician or call the LeadLine to find out how to have your child tested for lead. A blood lead level test is the only way to know if your child is being exposed to lead.

6. Test your water for lead. Call the LeadLine at 503-988-4000 to find out how to get a FREE lead-in-water test.

7. Regularly clean your faucet aerator. Particles containing lead from solder or household plumbing can become trapped in your faucet aerator. Regularly cleaning every few months will remove these particles and reduce your exposure to lead.

8. Consider buying low-lead fixtures. As of January 4, 2014 all pipes, fittings and fixtures are required to contain less than 0.25% lead. When buying new fixtures, consumers should seek out those with the lowest lead content.

For more information contact the LeadLine at 503-988-4000, or visit

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