Health Effects of Lead

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The Norfolk Department of Utilities conducted regulatory lead testing from June through September 2023. Results showed that Norfolk’s drinking water complied with the federal Lead and Copper Rule standards at that time. Our customers' health and safety are always our first priority!

According to the US EPA, there is no safe level of lead that can be consumed or ingested. Prolonged lead exposure can lead to health problems. Pregnant women, young children and elderly adults are most affected. In pregnant women, lead can be passed to the fetus through the placental membrane leading to premature birth and reduced growth. In children, low levels of lead exposure have been related to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter height, impaired hearing, and impaired blood cell formation and function. For adults, high levels of lead exposure can cause damage to the kidneys, brain, and nervous system, and affect the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of the body. 

If you have a lead service line, the lead from your pipe may leach into the water you drink. The U.S. EPA estimates that 10 to 20 percent of lead exposure in young children may come from drinking water. Infants who drink formula made with lead-contaminated water can get 40 to 60 percent of their lead exposure from drinking water. Lead is not absorbed through the skin, so there is no need to filter your shower and bath water for lead. 

If you are concerned about lead in your drinking water, contact the Water Quality Lab for a sampling kit by calling 757-441-5678 or visit Your Tap Water for more information. Follow the steps at “How to Reduce Your Risk”.