United States                Office of Prevention,             EPA747-F-94-001
                  Environmental Protection        Pesticides, and Toxic Substances    April 1994
                  Agency                    (7404)
                  Fact  Sheet
                  LEAD LEACHING FROM
                  SUBMERSIBLE WELL PUMPS

Lead is an element that is  found in air,  food, paint,  dust,  soil, and drinking water.  The
Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on average, we receive 15 to 20 percent of our
total lead  intake from drinking water.  Lead exposure has been associated  with a wide range
of risks  including  delays in normal mental  and physical  development,  impaired  learning
abilities in young children, and at extreme exposure  levels,  irreversible damage to the brain.

This feet sheet is concerned  with drinking  water submersible  well pumps.   Some submersible
well pumps are made of stainless steel and  plastic components but the majority are constructed
with brass fittings contained  in a cast brass housing. While the plastic and stainless pumps do
not pose a problem with lead leaching, EPA is concerned for residents of homes and other
buildings with submersible well pumps made with brass fittings, because the brass alloys used
in such pumps contain lead.  These pumps have the potential to leach high levels of lead into
drinking  water, especially if the water is soft and corrosive.

                       What Is A Submersible Well Pump?

A submersible well pump is typically four inches in diameter and is specially designed to fit
into a water well pipe.  Lead can leach into drinking water when  water sits  in contact with the
brass in the pump.   This could create a health risk with the  water pumped into the home or
other building by the pump.

                Is There  A Certification  Program  For Well Pumps?

NSF International (NSF) is an independent certification and  testing organization in the areas
of environmental and public health.  NSF develops voluntary standards for various products
and provides  testing and  certification against those standards. ANSI/NSF  Standard 61  is part
of the  NSF Drinking Water Additives Program and it addresses the health effects concerns of
indirect water additives, including lead. Section 8.0 of Standard  61  outlines the requirements
for various mechanical plumbing devices  that contact drinking water, including submersible
                                                      Printed on paper that contains
                                                      at least 50% recyded fiber

well pumps.   Currently,  one brand of pump has been  evaluated,  test and certified by NSF
against Standard 61, Section 8.0. Others have applied for Certification and are being evaluated.

                What Is The Environmental Protection Agency Doing?

Although  EPA does not  regulate individual home water wells, it does regulate public water
systems,  those serving  15  or  more connections or  those  that regularly  serve at  least 25
individuals, to monitor for lead and install corrosion control treatment if lead is found in excess
of 15 parts per billion lead  in more than 10 percent  of  homes tested.  EPA is  in the process
of testing lead leaching  levels from submersible  well pumps.   Laboratory  and statistical
analysis of the lead leaching data will be performed to determine to what extent lead leaching
from water pumps poses  a public health  concern  to anyone  using them.

                                What  Should You Do?

If you are uncertain  about  the composition of your pump, or you know  it  contains  brass
components, you should  get your drinking  water  tested.  Select a certified laboratory in your
area and be  sure to follow the proper EPA sampling protocol.  The protocol  can be  obtained
from EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline (800-426-4791). EPA's Safe Drinking  Water Hotline
can provide you with the name, address, and phone number of your  State  lab certification
officer.  They, in turn, can provide a list of State-certified laboratories.

If your submersible well  pump was  installed within the last year,  EPA advises you to  drink
bottled water while you wait for the results of the laboratory analysis.  EPA's action level for
lead is 15 parts per billion.   If the test results indicate  that your drinking water has lead levels
above the action level, there are several steps you can take.  There are a number of cartridge
and reverse osmosis filtering devices that are available to remove lead from drinking water at
the tap.   NSF International evaluates and  certifies  both bottled  water  and drinking water
treatment  devices, the latter with regard to  lead reduction  performance.  Lists of certified
products are available from NSF upon request.  The  Water Quality  Association (WQA) can
provide advice on treatment units for specific uses at home.  As a last resort, you may want
to replace the existing water  pump  with a stainless  steel  model.   However,  this option is
expensive, and still may not eliminate all the lead in your drinking water,  because some of the
lead produced by the  pump may have settled out in  different parts of the home's  piping.  In
addition, other components  of the home  plumbing system,  such as  solder, brass fittings, and
faucets are also potential  sources of lead.

                                For More Information

For more information about lead in drinking water,  contact the EPA Safe  Drinking Water
Hotline at 800-426-4791 or the National Lead Information Center at 800-424-LEAD. For more
information about the NSF drinking water additives, bottled water, or drinking water treatment
unit programs  contact NSF International at 3475 Plymouth Road P.O. Box 130140 Ann Arbor,
Ml  48113-0140 (313)769-5106.  WQA can be contacted at (708)505-0161, ext. 270.

      Drinking water from wells using submersible pumps made of brass or bronze
      may  contain lead  at levels that could pose risks to human health.  This
      document uses a question  and answer format to address issues that may
      concern the affected public.

                           Extent of the Problem

1.     How did EPA become aware of this problem?

      In laboratory tests, several models of new, previously unused submersible
      pumps with brass and bronze components have been found to leach high levels
      of lead into  the water that comes in contact with these pumps.  The findings
      of these tests indicate cause for concern to users of such pumps and a need
      for further research. EPA is not aware of data from field studies designed
      specifically to collect information on the extent of lead leaching from brass
      and/or bronze submersible pumps.

2.     Who may be affected?

      Anyone who gets drinking water from a well with a submersible well pump that
      has  brass or bronze parts may be affected.  Most likely this includes people
      who get their drinking water from individual, household wells. People who get
      their drinking  water  from large Public Water Systems  are not likely to  be
      affected because of dilution effects from high flow rates and treatment at the
      water plant.

      People with individual  wells will need to test the water themselves (see
      Questions 12 through 16, below). Although Public Water Systems are required
      by the Lead  and Copper Rule to monitor for lead at household taps, your home
      may not have been included in the sampling.  If you are concerned, you can
      contact the water system to find out when/if monitoring occurred  and what
      lead levels were found in your community.  People who have submersible
      pumps that are made of plastic and stainless steel components are not affected
      since pumps made out of these materials should not leach lead.

3.     What is a submersible well pump?

      A submersible well pump is a water pump in which the pump is submerged in
      the water that is pumped.  The usual well-pumping depth is 40 to  500 feet.
      The four-inch diameter submersible pumps are the most commonly used pumps
      in private wells, as well as in very small Public Water Systems.

4.    What factors influence how much lead can leach from submersible well pumps?

      The amount of lead that may leach from a submersible well pump can vary,
      depending on how much brass or bronze is used, how the brass or bronze parts
      are made, the age of the pump, and the corrosivity of the water. If you cannot
      tell for sure that your pump contains brass or bronze parts,  the manufacturer
      should  know;  also  the pump  manual or brochure  may also  have  this
      information. See Question 7. All but a few brands of submersible pumps use
      brass or bronze components that can leach lead.  The only way for you to
      determine if your submersible well pump is leaching lead is to have your water
      tested.  See Questions 12 through 16 for more information  on how to take a
      tap water sample from your home.

5.    What is EPA doing about lead leaching from submersible well pumps?

      EPA is in the process  of testing lead leaching from five major models of four-
      inch diameter submersible well pumps.  The five models include four models
      made with brass fittings, and one model made  with stainless steel and plastic
      components.   EPA will  evaluate the extent  of lead  leaching from  these
      submersible pumps and determine whether the performance standard for well
      pumps established by NSF International requires modification. If so, EPA will
      provide technical information and recommendations to NSF International. NSF
      International is an independent certification and testing organization in the areas
      of environmental and public health.   NSF International develops voluntary
      standards for various  products and provides product testing and certification
      against those standards.

6.    What is brass (also called bronze in some products)?

      Brasses and bronzes are metal alloys containing copper and zinc. Although not
      a major component of these alloys, lead is typically added to copper and zinc
      to improve the machinability of the alloy.  Many pump casings and other parts
      of submersible  pumps currently on the market are made of lead-containing
      brass or bronze.

7.    How can I tell if my submersible well pump has  parts made of brass or bronze?

      To find out if a submersible well pump has components that are made of brass
      or bronze, you should check  with the manufacturer of the well pump.  If you
      get your water from a Public Water System, you can contact the system to see
      if  it uses submersible well pumps that are made of brass or  bronze.  The
      telephone number for  your Public Water System will be printed on your water
      bill.  If you are unable to determine whether a submersible pump contains brass
      or bronze from either of these sources, you should have your tap water tested

      to see if  lead is  leaching into your water, and determine its source   The
      presence of lead in public water supply systems is most likely due to from the
      plumbing rather than from the pump.  See Questions 12 through 16 for more
      information on how to take a tap water sample from your home.

 8.    What about non-submersible pumps?

      EPA has not collected  data  regarding  whether non-submersible well pumps
      leach lead,  nor is EPA aware  of  data  collected outside the Agency.   The
      problem with lead leaching from submersible pumps has to do with brass or
      bronze fittings and casings which  are in constant contact with water.  Hand
      pumps or  single  stage shallow well pumps  that  contain brass  or bronze
      components that are in  constant contact with the well water could also  leach
      lead.  If you suspect that  a non-submersible pump  contains brass or bronze
      parts, you should have  your water tested.  See Questions  12 through 16 for
      more information on how to test your water.

9.    Didn't the Lead Ban prohibit the amount of lead in well pumps?

      The Lead Ban, passed by Congress in 1986, affects  all Public Water Systems
      and requires that only  "lead free" pipe, solder or  flux may be used in the
      installation  or repair of  (1) Public Water Systems,  or (2) any plumbing in a
      residential or non-residential facility providing water  for human consumption,
      which is connected to a Public Water System. "Lead free" means that solders
      and flux may not contain more than 0.2 percent lead, and that pipes, pipe
      fittings and well pumps  may not contain more than  8.0 percent lead.

      The Lead Ban does not apply  to  private  wells, although  manufacturers of
      submersible pumps are generally following the 8.0 percent lead limit anyway.
      However, EPA has found that submersible pumps are still leaching  lead into
      water even though they have no more than 8.0 percent lead and meet the Lead
      Ban's definition of "lead free".

10.    What is the definition of a Public Water System (PWS)?

      Public Water System means a system for the provision to the public of piped
      water for human  consumption,  if such  a system has at least fifteen service
      connections or regularly serves an average of at least twenty-five individuals
      daily at least 60  days out  of the year.  A Public Water System is  (1) any
      collection, treatment, storage and distribution facilities under control of the
      operator of such  system,  and  (2) any collection  or pretreatment  storage
      facilities not under such control which are used primarily in connection with
      such system. (40 CFR  141.2)

 11.   Are there any EPA regulations for water quality in private wells?

       The Federal regulations  under  the  Safe Drinking Water  Act apply  to  Public
       Water Systems.   These  regulations  do not apply to private wells serving
       individual households.  Individual States may regulate well water quality  Most
       States have building codes which affect well construction practices   Many
       individuals  with private  wells  use  the EPA's regulations  for Public Water
       Systems as guidance for the quality  of their well water. Two publications
       Citizen Monitoring: Recommendations to Household Well Users (EPA 570/9-90-
       006, dated April 1 990) and Drinking Water From Household Wells (EPA 570/9-
       90-013, dated September 1990) are available by  contacting the Safe Drinkinq
       Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.
                            Steps for the Consumer

 12.   How can I tell if there is lead in my drinking water?

      Detecting lead in drinking water requires that the water be tested.  Since the
      EPA has regulated lead in drinking water supplied by Public Water Systems, the
      Agency has specified which methods are approved for  testing lead   EPA
      recommends the use of a lab that is certified to perform these specific tests on
      drinking water.  The Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791  can provide
      a phone number in each  State  that you can call and  request a list of
      laboratories certified to test lead in drinking water.

13.   Are there any home test kits that can be used to check lead in drinking water?

      There are no home test  kits that  are EPA approved to  test for lead. EPA
      recommends a State Certified Laboratory for testing lead in drinking water. To
      obtain a list  of  laboratories in your area,  you  can contact the Safe  Drinkinq
      Water Hotline at 800-426-4791  for the telephone  number  of  your  State
      Certification  Officer who will provide you with this list.

14.   What is the sampling protocol I should follow to test my water for lead supplied
      from an individual well?

      Household water supplies from individual wells include various designs.  Most
      systems include a storage tank, where water is held before it is distributed
      through the house.  To determine the contribution of lead  from the plumbing
      including faucets and solder, collect a 250 ml (one quarter of a liter, or about
      8.5  ounces) sample.  This  sample should  be collected after the water in the
      plumbing has sat motionless for several hours (e.g., first thing in the morning)
      without allowing the water to run first.  This is called a "first-draw sample"

       To determine the highest probable amount of lead that you may be exposed to
       originating from a submersible pump, a 250 ml  sample should be collected
       mid-morning after allowing the water to run for 30  seconds   This sample
       should  be collected from the  outlet of the  storage tank, before  the water
       contacts other household plumbing (solder, brass fittings,  faucets), to assure
       the sample will not contain lead from other household sources.  This is called
       a "flushed sample".  Lead in your drinking water may be also contributed from
       the lead solder and brass faucets and fittings in the interior plumbing.

 15.    Didn't the Lead and Copper Rule require first-draw samples (i.e., ones that have
       been taken from a tap that has not been used for at least 6 hours)? Why is this
       sampling protocol different?

       Unlike the tap water testing protocol under the Lead and Copper Rule, EPA's
       recommended protocol for submersible well pumps is devised  to measure the
       highest  probable amount  of lead that you may be  exposed to in your drinking
       water which has originated from the submersible pump. Since the lead leaching
       from a submersible pump  is likely to be found  in the well water, and diluted by
       the water in the storage tank, before the  well  water  is  pumped  into the
       household plumbing, you should take a sample for lead  from the discharge end
       of the holding tank to determine how much lead the well pump is contributing
      to the water entering your home. (If you do not have a  storage tank you
      should sample from the faucet closest to the  well).  We recommend that you
      should take the water sample mid-morning.  By this time, sufficient water has
      passed through the system to flush out the water that has been standing in the
      pipes and get the water from the well that contains lead leached from the well
      pump overnight. If you want to see if your pipes are also contributing lead to
      your drinking water, you should take both a first draw and a flushed sample.
      A 1 -liter first draw sample  is required by the Lead and Copper Rule because the
      Rule is trying to determine how much lead is leaching from plumbing inside a
      home (i.e., from lead pipes, solder, flux, faucet fixtures, etc.) as  well as from
      the  distribution system. See Question 14 for the sampling protocol.

16.   How do  I evaluate my test results?

      EPA's action level for lead in drinking water  is 15 parts per billion (ppb,  or
      /yg/L). If test results indicate that your tap water contains lead above 1 5 ppb
      there are several steps you can take.  First, determine the  source of lead as
      best you can.  This can be done by taking a first draw sample followed by a
      flushed sample as described in Question 14.

      If you have a submersible well pump that contains brass  or bronze and the
      flushed sample has a lead  level above 1 5 ppb, the  problem is likely to be the
      pump. Under these circumstances, steps you can take to reduce your exposure

      to lead include installing a home water treatment unit, using bottled water  or
      replacing the submersible well pump with a pump that does not contain brass
      or bronze.  See Question 18 for additional information.

      If the lead level is above 1 5 ppb in the first draw sample, but not in the flushed
      sample, the lead is likely to  be coming from components of your household
      plumbing (e.g., lead piping  or solder, or brass  faucets).  If this  is the  case
      anytime the water  in a particular faucet has not been used for several hours'
      flush your cold-water pipes by running the water until it becomes  as cold as it
      will get.  (This could take as little  as  five to thirty seconds if there has been
      recent heavy water use such as showering or  toilet flushing.  Otherwise  it
      could take 2 minutes or longer.)  The more time  water has been sitting in your
      home's pipes, the more lead  it may contain.

17.   Will boiling water remove lead?

      Boiling water does not remove lead.  Consumers are sometimes directed to boil
      water by  their  Public  Water  System  if   there  is  known  or suspected
      contamination of the public water supply by microorganisms. Boiling water kills
      or inactivates bacteria and viruses that can have adverse health effects on
      humans.  During boiling, water evaporates which concentrates any lead that
      may be in the water.

18.   What can I do to protect myself and  my family from exposure to lead  from
      submersible pumps?

      You can take several steps to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water
      if you determine that you have lead in your drinking water above EPA's action
      level of 1 5 /yg/L (equivalent to parts per billion).  You can

           Install  a Point-of-Use treatment device that  removes lead.  For more
           information on which types of treatment devices remove lead, contact
           the Water Quality Association at 708-505-0160 or NSF International at
           313-769-5106; and/or

           Use bottled water for drinking and cooking.  Make sure that you use a
           brand that does  not contain  lead, however.  For more information on
           bottled  water, you can contact the Food  and Drug Administration at
           301-443-4166,  NSF International at 31 3-769-5106, or the International
           Bottled Water Association at  703-683-5213;  or

           Replace the submersible well  pump with a pump that does not contain
           lead (such as  stainless steel and plastic).

 19,    Which bottled water is the best for me to drink?

       Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), not EPA.
       For information on bottled water you can contact the FDA's Consumer Affairs
       Office at 301-443-4166.  Information is also available from the International
       Bottled Water Association (IBWA) at 703-683-5213,  and NSF International
       which certifies bottled water at 313-769-5106.

 20.    Which Home Water Treatment Units remove lead?

       Generally speaking, systems using reverse osmosis remove substantial amounts
       of most inorganic  chemicals including lead.  Several systems using charcoal
       filters also remove lead.  However, there are many brands and manufacturers
       of water filters.  EPA neither approves nor endorses home water treatment
       units  nor does EPA conduct laboratory tests to determine  whether a unit
       functions as designed and/or claimed.  Two reliable sources of information
       about water filters  are the NSF International and the Water Quality Association
       which are described above.

21.    Will water softeners affect the amount of lead in drinking water?

      Water softeners are devices that are attached to the plumbing at the point just
      after the plumbing  enters the home. This is called point-of-entry (point-of-use
      is when the device is attached to a faucet inside the home).  These devices
      soften the water by removing minerals (primarily calcium and magnesium) that
      cause the water to be hard. Water softening will also remove the lead that
      typically leaches from submersible well pumps.  Preliminary tests of water
      softeners indicate that they will not affect the corrosivity of the water. Unlike
      water softened by a water  softener, naturally occurring soft  waters are mostly

22.   What is soft water?

      Hard water and soft water are relative terms. Water is considered soft if it has
      low total dissolved solids, low in  divalent minerals (primarily calcium and
      magnesium). Water with total  hardness (calcium  and magnesium salts and to
      a lesser extent  iron  salts are the  major  causes  of  hardness  in water)
      concentrations from  0 to  75 mg/l is considered soft, 75 to 150 mg/l  is
      considered moderately hard, 1 50 to  300 mg/l is considered hard, and over 300
      mg/l is considered very hard. Hard  water slows down the cleaning  actions of
      soaps and detergents and when heated will deposit a hard scale in cooking pots
      and in hot water pipes.

 23.   What is corrosion? What is corrosive water?

       Corrosion is commonly defined as an electrochemical reaction in which metal
       erodes or is destroyed by contact with elements such as air, water or  soil
       Corrosive water is a term used to describe the ability of certain waters to wear
       away metals.  The  important characteristics of water  that  may  affect its
       corrosiveness to metals include the following:
            Carbon dioxide
         Water Temperature
 is  a  measure  of  the  water's  ability  to
 neutralize alkaline  materials.    Water  with
 acidity or low alkalinity tends  to  be more
 corrosive than less acidic water. Water with
 pH  less  than  seven  is  acidic.  (In  some
 instances waters with pH above 7 may still be

 is related to the amount of dissolved minerals
 in the  water.   An  increase in  conductivity
 promotes the flow  of  electrical  current and
 increases the rate of corrosion.

 is oxygen dissolved in  water.   Oxygen  may
 either be a corrosive agent or protect against

 is carbon dioxide dissolved in water.  Carbon
 cioxide forms carbonic  acid, which tends  to
 attack metal surfaces.   Also the higher the
 levels of carbonic acid in water, the higher the
 acidity of the water.

 is the temperature of the water.  Experience
 indicates   that  the   higher    the   water
 temperature, the higher  the corrosion rate for
            Silt & sand
ii;  the amount of silt and  sand present  in
water.  Silt and sand causes the erosion of
protective films on metal surfaces. The higher
the water silt and/or sand content, the higher
the erosion and corrosion rate.

                             Health Effects of Lead

 24.   What are the health effects of drinking water that contains lead?

       All people are susceptible to the risk of lead contamination, but children are
       especially  vulnerable.   Children are sensitive because  their bodies are  still
       developing, and they absorb and retain more lead than adults.  Even at very low
       levels of lead exposure, children can experience reduced I.Q. levels, impaired
       learning and language skills, loss of hearing and reduced attention spans.  At
       higher levels, lead can cause damage to the brain and central nervous system,
       interfering with both learning and physical growth.   In adults, lead can also
       raise blood pressure a small amount.  Women of child-bearing age are also at
       risk.  Lead  can cause impaired development of the fetus, premature births, and
       reduced birth weights, and at extremely high exposure levels, fertility problems
       and miscarriages.

 25.    Should  I have my child's blood tested for lead?

       Many local health departments have lead testing programs.  Contact your local
       health department or physician for information on how to get your child's blood
       tested for lead. The only way to know for sure if your children have elevated
       blood-lead  levels is to have them tested. The Centers for Disease Control and
       Prevention (CDC) recommend testing at 12 months of age, and, if resources
       allow, at 24 months. Screening should start at 6 months if the child is at risk
      of lead exposure.  In some States, more frequent screening is required by law.

26.   If my blood level is  high, does this mean the drinking water is bad?

      Not necessarily. Lead comes from many sources, including household surfaces
      with old lead paint,  household dusts and soils contaminated by lead paint or
      past emissions of leaded gasoline, lead crystal glassware or  imported or old
      pottery, some imported food cans, printing  on the outside of plastic bags, and
      other sources such as some imported crayons.

27.   What organizations  can I contact for more  information?

      The organizations listed below can  provide  more information on the following

           Bottled Water:          The Food and Drug Administration regulates
                                   bottled water.   To  find  out  about their
                                   standards call 301-443-4166.  You  may also
                                   contact  the  International   Bottled  Water

            Water Filters:
Association (IBWA) at 703-683-5213 or NSF
International at 3133-769-5106.

The International Bottled Water Association is
an  independent,  not-for-profit  organization
which  can  provide   information  about
international standards.  Call them at 703-

NSF   International  is   an   independent
certification and testing  organization  in  the
areas of environmental and public health.  NSF
International may be contacted at 313-769-

NSF International offers objective third-party
evaluation of water filters and will provide a
list of brands which have been certified.  You
can reach this foundation at 313-769-5106.

The Water  Quality  Association  can provide
advice on water filters  for  specific uses at
residential,   commercial,   industrial    and
institutional  settings.  This independent,  not-
for-profit association's phone number is 708-

Additional information on lead, lead poisoning,
health effects on children, testing your home
for  lead  paint and  state  contacts, call  the
National Lead Information Center at 800-424-
If you  get  your water from a Public  Water
System, contact the system that supplies your
drinking  water  to  find  out  if  any   wells
outfitted  with  lead-containing submersible
pumps are  used.    The  name  and  phone
number of the Public Water System is usually
printed on the water bill. If you are served by
a municipal system, a phone number should
also be located in the government listings of
the local phone book.