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Water Safety Using Tap Water

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I was using hot water from the tap to fill a pot to boil pasta. My friend told me that it was unsafe to use hot tap water. But, I pointed out that it was being boiled.


Water worries

Dear Water worries

For safety, your friend is correct. Always use cold water from the tap and then boil for cooking. Tap water can contain lead from home plumbing materials such as lead pipes, joints, and solder. Warm or hot water contains higher concentrations of lead (Centers for Disease Control, 2007). Boiling the water does not remove lead, but actually increases its concentration in the water. Boiling water would eliminate microbial contamination that cause diseases, but not lead contaminants or chemicals such as nitrates from fertilizer (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, 2003). The only way to know if your water contains lead is to have it tested.

3 Tap Water Safety Tips (USEPA, 2003; CDC, 2007)

1. Do Not Boil Water to try to reduce lead or chemical contaminants. Boiling water increases contamination concentration.

2. Always Use Cold Tap Water: for cooking, baby formula, or drinking.

3. Flush Pipes: before using water for drinking or cooking, run tap water until itís cold. If you have concerns about lead from home pipes, the Centers for Disease Control recommends flushing tap water 1-2 minutes if the tap has not been used for six hours.