In conjunction with existing compliance monitoring efforts and optimized corrosion control treatment, we have implemented actions with the goal of reducing the exposure of San Francisco residents to lead in drinking water.
Lead is a metal found in natural deposits as ores containing other elements and is a known neurotoxin that can cause adverse developmental effects to children. Lead found in drinking water comes primarily from the corrosion of faucets, plumbing fixtures and lead solder in the home, as well as from lead service lines, if they are present. The SFPUC removed all known lead service lines in the 1980s.
We have a number of historical and current programs to minimize customer exposure to lead and continue to comply with regulatory requirements. Our high quality source water does not contain lead. We have and continue to remove components that contain lead. Corrosion control treatment is optimized to to minimize the amount of lead from building plumbing. The SFPUC monitors for lead in drinking water through a variety of programs, works closely with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and provides lead information to our customers.
Request Residential and Commercial Building Lead Testing
San Francisco residents may request a sampling kit and analysis for $25.00 per tap by calling (650) 652-3100. WIC participants can request a free lead test. This tap water sampling is conducted by the resident according to lead and copper sampling protocol provided by the SFPUC. We will pick up the collected sample, conduct analysis and provide results to the resident.
Please complete the Lead Analysis Application and send it along with your payment ($25.00 per tap) to:
SFPUC Water Quality Division
Environmental Services Section
Attn: Lead Program Coordinator
1657 Rollins Road
Burlingame, CA 94010
Lead and Copper Monitoring - Schools and Municipal Buildings
We have conducted lead and copper monitoring for decades, resulting in the collection of thousands of samples. Monitoring programs allow us to look for and document lead in drinking water. We have implemented various monitoring programs to address regulatory requirements or other concerns.
Lead Tests at K-12 School Campuses in San Francisco
Testing began in April 2017, and will continue until we have completed the testing of fixtures in all San Francisco Unified School District K-12 campus locations and sites. In addition, we have begun testing fixtures, by request, at private, parochial and non-affiliated schools throughout the City.
To request lead testing at your school, please copy and paste the template onto your letterhead, fill in the necessary information, have it signed by the superintendent or head administrator, and return it to our Water Quality Division Director. The completed and signed letter can be submitted via email to email@example.com.
Monitoring has been conducted in many public municipal buildings throughout San Francisco. Access the monitoring data.
State Water Resources Control Board
Following regulatory guidelines established by the State Water Resources Control Board-Division of Drinking Water, these test results are available to the public.
Lead and Copper Rule
The State Water Resources Control Board uses results of water quality monitoring to determine if additional studies or treatment are necessary. Results of the Lead and Copper Rule monitoring program in the City and County of San Francisco can be found here for the years 2009, 2012, 2015, and 2018.
Please contact our Water Quality Division at (650) 652-3100 if you have any questions about our lead testing program.
Lead User Service Lines
Prior to 1950, water utilities around the country commonly used lead service lines and components to connect water mains to the services lines for homes.
In the 1980s, SFPUC removed all known lead utility service lines (approximately 7,000 lines) and does not expect to find additional lead service lines in the water system. If any are found, they will be quickly removed.
However, there are galvanized utility service lines that use flexible lead components to connect to the water main. These flexible lead components, commonly called goosenecks, pigtails, or whips, are approximately 3 feet in length and may contribute low levels of lead to drinking water (see diagram). Under Senate Bills 1398 and 427, the State of California required utilities to inventory and then remove these lead components. SFPUC also plans to remove all galvanized utility service lines downstream of the lead components as a part of the effort.
Identifying and Purchasing Lead-Free Faucets
Do faucets have lead?
Most faucets purchased prior to 1997 were constructed of brass or chrome-plated brass containing up to 8 percent lead. Water sitting overnight (or for several hours) in a brass faucet tends to leach lead from the brass faucet interior which may produce relatively high lead levels in the first draw of drinking water. Lead is of potential health concern, especially for children and pregnant women, since it can build up in the body and cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys.
How can I tell if a new faucet is lead free?
Faucet manufacturers responding to recent regulations have decreased or eliminated the lead in residential kitchen faucets, bathroom faucets, bar faucets, drinking fountains, and icemakers. The national standard for certifying the "lead free" status of plumbing fixtures is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International Standard 61-Section 9. NSF provides catalogs and a computer web site listing approved "lead free" fixtures. NSF can be reached at 1-800-NSF-MARK or www.nsf.org. New faucets meeting the NSF 61 standard will have NSF 61/9 stamped on the new faucet’s cardboard box.
Note that the term "lead free" may be misleading since its legal definition allows a faucet to leach up to 11 parts per billion (ppb) of lead using a standard test protocol. The national action level for lead in drinking water is 15 ppb. California has a stricter standard for faucet lead leaching via Proposition 65 and can leach up to 5 ppb of lead and bathroom faucets can leach up to 11 ppb. Any faucet sold in California, which does not meet the California standard, must have a Proposition 65-package warning insert or a warning hang tag.
If your new faucet has both a NSF 61/9 stamp on the cardboard box and has no Proposition 65 warning, then your faucet is both a "lead-free" and an ultra low-lead faucet. This is the most desirable faucet.
Are there any faucets with no lead at all?
Some faucet manufactures produce plastic faucets that have virtually zero lead. Other manufactures are substituting other metals for the lead in the brass, inserting copper tubes inside the brass faucets, or applying special coatings on the inside of the faucets in order to minimize or eliminate lead leaching.
Does it really matter if I have an ultra-low lead faucet?
In extreme cases older faucets can contribute up to one-third of the lead in the first-draw of water in the morning with the remainder coming from other plumbing such as pre-1988 lead solder joints in copper pipes. Residents who let the water run at the tap in the morning for one minute and use cold water for cooking should have little concern with respect to lead in the drinking water. If residents are still concerned, they can request from their water supplier a lead test (at a nominal charge that can be waived under special circumstances) or a list of local laboratories approved for lead testing. Residents always have the option of replacing an older kitchen or bathroom faucet with a new ultra-low lead faucet.
Do some plumbing fixtures still contain lead?
Federal and State lead regulations do not cover hose bibs, bathtub fixtures, shower heads, and industrial faucets. Avoid drinking or cooking with water from these fixtures. Since the year 2000, all kitchen faucets sold in California have been ultra-low lead. Beginning in 2010, when any water fixtures and fittings intended to convey drinking water are replaced, they must be replaced with ultra-low lead products (containing no more than 0.25% lead).
Is drinking water the main source of lead exposure?
Lead contamination from lead-based paint, dirt, and dust accounts for most of the exposure. Lead from drinking water accounts for about 20 percent of a person’s exposure to lead. The two most cost effective ways to minimize lead exposure from drinking water are to 1) flush the kitchen faucet for one minute in the morning or after coming home from school/work and 2) use only cold water for drinking and cooking.
How do I get information about lead in my drinking water?
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) will provide lead information and products for lead detection and removal via the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch (CLPPB) website or by calling (510) 620-5600.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) operates a National Lead Information Center at (800) 424-LEAD  or can be reached at its website https://www.epa.gov/lead/index.html.
Our Water Quality Bureau can provide information on the quality of your water and can be reached at (650) 652-3100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco residents may call the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Section strives to promote health and quality of life in San Francisco by ensuring healthy living and working conditions in the City and County of San Francisco. Please call (415) 252-3800 if you are concerned that a young child may be exposed to lead hazards. This health office will investigate and order safe remediation of any identified lead hazards.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: Lead in Tap Water and Household Plumbing: Parent FAQs
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH): CDPH provides lead information and products for lead detection and removal via the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch (CLPPB) website or by calling (510) 620-5600.
- Centers for Disease Control: Sources of Lead in Drinking Water and Prevention Tips
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Visit the EPA's National Lead Information Center website or call (800) 424-LEAD .
- Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment: Public Health Goals (PHGs) - Water
- San Francisco Department of Public Health – Childhood Lead Prevention Program
- Water Quality Division: Our Water Quality Division can provide information on the quality of your water and can be reached at (650) 652-3100 or email email@example.com
- NSF: List of certified filters to remove lead