Consumer Alert: What can you do about lead in your water?

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A water-quality crisis that has been called the biggest since Flint has been unfolding in Newark, where high lead levels have been found in the water supply. City officials are distributing bottled water after thousands of families were warned their water could have unsafe lead levels.

But there's a risk of lead exposure anywhere -- especially if you live in a house built in the 1970s or earlier.

Lead in water typically comes from old pipes or solder. It can be in the water mains, or if your house was built before 1986, it could be in your own pipes or fixtures.

Several years ago, News 12 investigated lead levels by testing the water in dozens of homes. Most were safe -- but in a few, lead levels were too high.

The good news is that high lead levels are usually easy to fix. At up at 15 parts per billion, the EPA recommends running the water for 10 seconds before using it. At 15 parts per billion or higher, a filter is recommended. Be sure it's labeled as NSF-certified.

The most reliable filters attach at the sink or faucet. Whole house filters work if all your pipes and fixtures are lead-free.

In Newark, two filters were reportedly found not to be working properly -- so be sure you install yours correctly, change filter cartridges as directed, and retest the water from time to time.

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