Lead in tap water: Is your water safe for making infant formula?

October 15, 2020
baby bottle

When HBBF launched our lead-in-water testing program with Virginia Tech in 2016, we knew we would find lead in many homes. Millions of homes across the country get water through lead pipes and millions more have lead-bearing fixtures and solder. All of this plumbing adds lead to a family’s tap water.

But this year, when we looked at the national test results in light of risks for the most highly exposed family members – infants drinking formula made with tap water – we knew we had uncovered an urgent problem. 

Eight of every 10 homes we tested have lead in the water, a result we anticipated. But fully half of those have levels above the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommended limit for children. And one of every seven homes has lead amounts high enough to erase half an IQ point – or up to several points in some homes – for a baby drinking formula made with tap water. In these homes, babies face higher risks for ADHD and learning and behavioral problems as well.

  • 79% of homes tested have detectable levels of lead in tap water.
     
  • 40% of homes have lead levels above American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommended limit for children (1 ppb).
     
  • 21% of homes have lead levels above level that causes up to 1% loss in lifetime economic productivity for an exposed infant/child, due to IQ loss.

We don’t expect the current Administration to help cities replace the 6 to 10 million lead pipes in drinking water systems nationwide. But we do hope that the next Administration and the 117th Congress will. The price that American families are paying is too high for our leaders not to act.

Please help by signing this open letter to the Biden Administration and the 117th Congress, calling on them to get the lead out of our tap water and out of babies’ formula.