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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Reducing Lead Exposure

Sources of Lead

The main source of lead in water in the Portland area is household plumbing. Lead is rarely found in Portland’s source waters, and there are no known lead service lines in the distribution system. Lead solder was commonly used in homes built or plumbed with copper pipes before 1985. Lead can also be found in brass plumbing fixtures and components.

When corrosive water stands in plumbing systems that contain lead for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into drinking water. Water that has been sitting in household pipes that contain lead for several hours, such as in the morning or after returning from work or school, is most likely to contain lead.

In Portland, the most common source of lead exposure is not from lead in water but from lead-based paint. Other sources of lead include:  household dust, soil, and other household objects such as toys, cosmetics and pottery. For more information on all source of lead, contact the LeadLine, 503-988-4000 or

What You Can Do

Order a free lead-in-water test kit and follow some easy steps to reduce your exposure to lead in water. You can also watch a video PSA from the Multnomah County Health Department about hazards from lead-based paint and dust. Contact the LeadLine online or at 503-988-4000 for more information about lead hazards.

What the Portland Water Bureau is Doing

The Portland Water Bureau treats the water with sodium hydroxide to raise the pH and reduce the corrosivity of water, provides resources for the reduction of lead exposure from all sources and provides free lead-in-water testing to customers. 

Health Effects of Lead

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body.
The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.

FAQs about Lead & Copper Rule

Posted: April 2016

Treatment & Monitoring for Lead

How the Portland Water Bureau treats and tests for lead in water, and results of lead in water testing.

Easy Steps to Reduce Lead Exposure

Flushing, low lead fixtures and filters can reduce exposure to lead in water

Free Lead in Water Testing

Order a free lead-in-water test kit.

Lead Hazard Reduction Resources

Information and links to partners providing free blood testing, lead poisoning prevention workshops, and more.

Lead in Drinking Water and Household Plumbing - Brochure

Educational brochure on how to reduce exposure to lead

How to Identify Lead-Free Plumbing Products

A guide from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on how to identify lead free certification marks for plumbing products, such as faucets, pipe fittings, and other plumbing fixtures.