MILLTOWN, NJ - The Borough Council will hold an informational meeting prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting on Tuesday, October 10 to discuss the elevated levels of lead discovered in some Milltown homes and business. The information portion of the council meeting will begin at 6 p.m.

The Milltown Water Department has twice released notices on the borough's website regarding elevated levels of lead in Milltown's drinking water. The first notice was posted on the website on July 18 and the second was posted on September 29. An announcement about the informational meeting was made available on the website on October 5.

According to the information posted by the Milltown Water Department, elevated lead levels were first identified during the June 19 testing cycle. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated that the action level for lead in the public's drinking water should be set at 15 parts per billion. Milltown's was rated at 20.9 parts per billion.

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Long-term exposure to lead can have adverse health effects, especially in young children and pregnant women. Infants, kids and pregnant women are more vulnerable to the detrimental impact of lead because the chemical is more readily absorbed into the tissues of developing bodies.

Low levels of lead in youngsters has been linked to lower IQ's, behavioral issues, learning and hearing problems and anemia. Exposure to lead during pregnancy is known to cause premature births as well as contribute to low-birth weight in newborns. Adults that suffer from kidney problems and high blood pressure are also at a higher risk for developing health problems from elevated lead levels.

The Milltown Water Department stated in their notice in July that they would be testing the drinking water every six months in addition to starting a public education campaign about the elevated lead levels. According to the EPA, lead exposure from drinking water occurs in 10 to 20 percent of the cases involving people. Studies have shown that lead is hardly ever discovered in ground water. The source of the lead exposure is most often tap water that occurs as a result of corroding plumbing pipes and fixtures.

Homes built prior to 1986 typically have plumbing pipes and fixtures that contain lead. However, newer homes aren't in the clear because new piping and fixtures that are supposedly lead-free often contain eight percent. Brass or brass-chrome fixtures have been known to seep lead into tap water especially via hot water.

Residents can take simple steps to help reduce lead levels in their drinking water. The Department of Environmental Protection recommends people take the following actions to reduce their exposure to lead in drinking water in their homes.

  • Only use cold water for cooking, cleaning fruits and vegetables, making baby formula and for drinking. Boiling water does not reduce lead levels in tap water.
  • Before using tap water for cooking or drinking, flush the pipes by running the tap for at least two minutes.
  • Make a habit of cleaning the faucets screen or aerator.
  • Install a water filter that is certified to remove lead.
  • Regularly replace the certified-lead removal water filter.

The EPA also states that showering or taking a bath with tap water over the department's recommended action level is safe in most cases since skin doesn't absorb lead. For more information on lead exposure, visit the EPA's website.

Residents also have the option of having their water checked for lead on their own. According to information provided by the Milltown Water Department on the borough's website, two labs are locally available, including Garden State Labs in Hillside and Enviro-Probe, Inc. in Metuchen.

The Informational Meeting on October 10 at 6 p.m. will take place at the Municipal Building on 39 Washington Avenue.