Hamtramck water samples reveal increased lead levels

City to distribute free water filters to residents following substandard test results

Person washing hands under faucet (Unsplash)

WAYNE, Mich. – Unsatisfactory lead levels have been discovered in the tap water in the city of Hamtramck during routine testing, prompting the city to increase testing at more locations.

Hamtramck officials announced Wednesday that recent routine tap water testing recently conducted for lead and copper has uncovered substandard lead levels at residents’ homes.

Officials say tap water was recently collected from 42 homes in the city and tested for lead and copper. Of the 42 homes, six were found to have lead levels of 17 parts per billion (ppb). Under Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act, 90% of samples collected must fall below 15 ppb, which is considered the “action level.” This level is not a health-based standard, but rather requires authorities to take action to measure corrosion control effectiveness, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

The city of Hamtramck will reportedly be taking several steps while under the action level, including ramping up “investigative sampling of water quality.” Residents who would like their water to be tested for free can call the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ drinking water hotline at 844-934-1315.

The city will also be providing one free water filter and replacement cartridges per address to residents from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21 in the parking lot of the Hamtramck Town Center, located at the corner of Joseph Campau and Holbrook avenues. More distribution times will be scheduled in the coming weeks, officials said.

“We want our residents to have safe drinking water,” said Kathleen Angerer, Hamtramck city manager. “... 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.”

The news comes one week after a similar announcement was made for the city of Wayne, and amid an even more severe lead crisis in Benton Harbor -- and, of course, amid the ongoing Flint water crisis.

More: Hank Winchester in Benton Harbor: Here we go again, another lead water crisis

Steps to prevent lead exposure from tap water

Though the action level is not a health-based standard, the ultimate goal is to have 0 ppb lead in tap water. It is not safe to have any levels of lead in the blood, and EGLE says that it is estimated that “drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person’s potential exposure to lead.”

City officials are encouraging Hamtramck residents, especially those with lead service lines, to flush their pipes before using tap water to drink or prepare food to help limit lead exposure. Customers with lead service lines are encouraged to run their water for at least five minutes to flush water from the plumbing. Those without lead service lines should run the water for 30 seconds to two minutes.

To help limit one’s exposure to lead through tap water, do no use hot water for drinking, preparing food or preparing baby formula. Boiling water does not reduce the amount of lead in the water.

There are several ways that lead can enter your drinking water.

Learn more about lead and how to prevent lead exposure from tap water on EGLE’s website here.

See the full announcement from the city of Hamtramck below.

More: Benton Harbor lead crisis forces residents to rely on bottled water

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.