High levels of lead found in Hamtramck water system

HAMTRAMCK —After elevated levels of lead in the city’s water system were detected, the city of Hamtramck partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to distribute one free water filter with replacement cartridges, per address, to Hamtramck residents on Thursday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Hamtramck Town Center parking lot located at 9521 Joseph Campau.

Additional distribution events will be scheduled and posted in the upcoming weeks. The next distribution will be at the same location at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 26. There will be 900 filters given on a first-come-first-served basis.

Each year, Hamtramck conducts testing of tap water in homes for lead and copper. As required by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), lead and copper samples are collected from homes that have lead service lines.

The city recently collected samples from 42 homes. Six of those of the samples taken showed levels over the EGLE’s “Action Level” of 15 ppb, at 17 ppb. Lead was found in customer service lines, which can be attributed to the age of the homes and the use of lead in those pipes, not in the main water coming to Hamtramck and traveling through the city.

Lead can enter drinking water when in contact with pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures that contain it. Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain.

Therefore, if water has not been used in several hours, households should run the water before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes. Additional flushing may be required for homes that have been vacant or have a longer service line.

High levels of lead found in Hamtramck water system

The “Action Level” is not a health-based standard, but it is a level that triggers additional actions including, but not limited to, increased investigative sampling of water quality and educational outreach to customers in accordance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. The goal for lead in drinking water is 0 ppb; there is no safe level of lead in the blood.

  • Everyone can consider using a filter to reduce lead in drinking water. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends that any household with a child or pregnant woman use cold water and a certified lead filter to remove lead from their drinking water, especially when preparing baby formula.
  • Use cold tap water for drinking, cooking or preparing food or preparing baby formula.
  • Do not boil water as boiling will not reduce the amount of lead in water.
  • Clean faucet aerator to remove trapped debris.
  • Check whether your home has a lead service line. The city of Hamtramck will soon send a comprehensive public education document about lead in drinking water. It will be collecting water samples from 60 homes every six months and reviewing the results to determine if corrective actions are necessary to reduce corrosion in household plumbing.

    In 2019, Hamtramck began a lead service line replacement program. The EGLE has mandated that all Michigan cities replace every lead service line within their communities over the next several years. By December, the city will have completed more than 300 lead service line replacements. The city is trying to up that to 400 replacements next year. With funding, that level could go up even more.

    “We are calling on all of our elected officials, the governor and the Michigan legislature to work quickly towards a solution to provide funding to Hamtramck and communities like ours for expedited full lead service line replacement for the safety of our families,” said City Manager Kathleen Angerer.

    Hamtramck water customers can have their service lines inspected or have their drinking water tested for lead by contacting the MDHHS Drinking Water Hotline for free water testing. Call the MDHHS at 844-934-1315.

    If any resident wants their child’s blood screened for lead or a test for themselves, they may go through their own health care provider or can schedule an appointment with the Wayne County Healthy Communities local office. This office is also offering COVID-19 vaccinations and childhood immunizations:

    9021 Joseph Campau Ave,Hamtramck, MI 48212Phone: 313-871-1926

    Those operating a food establishment such as a store, restaurant, bar or food manufacturing establishment should visit www.michigan.gov/mdardleadinfo for specific information for food firms. Additional information regarding lead can be found at Hamtramck’s website, hamtramck.us or at the EGLE websites: Michigan.gov/EGLELeadPublicAdvisory or Michigan.gov/MILeadSafe.