Your home's plumbing likely contains some lead, an extremely toxic metal, in its pipes and/or fittings, and as water passes through the plumbing, it picks up lead and delivers it to you through your faucets. If you suspect lead in your water, have it tested promptly by a state- or EPA-approved laboratory. It's possible to remove a substantial amount of lead from your water without any special equipment, and if you invest in the right kind of water treatment system, you can remove virtually all of it.

Flush Your Pipes

Water collects lead when it sits in your home's plumbing for a long period of time, so the water that comes from the tap when you first turn it on usually contains the highest concentration of lead. If you let the water run for one or two minutes before you consume it or use it for cooking, you'll avoid the greatest amounts of lead. Flush each faucet individually if it hasn't been used in the last hour, and store water in bottles for later use so that you won't have to flush the faucet repeatedly throughout the day. You can also minimize water waste by using the flushing water for irrigating plants and other household uses.

Use Cold Water

Lead dissolves in water much more quickly and easily when the water is hot, so the hot water in your system is likely to contain more lead than the cold water. Use only cold water for consumption, mixing baby formula or cooking, heating it if necessary after you get it from the tap. Heating or boiling water doesn't remove lead, so don't count on the cooking process to purify water from a contaminated source.

Use the Right Filter

Some types of water filters are effective at removing lead from water, but others are not. Reverse osmosis and activated alumina filters do a good job of removing lead. Activated carbon filters that are certified as meeting NSF/ANSI Standard 53 will remove lead, but those that meet only the less stringent Standard 42 are not effective. Ultraviolet water treatment systems kill bacteria but don't remove metals like lead, and water softeners also will not remove lead.

Distill Water

Distillation systems heat water to its boiling point and then recondense the steam to produce purified water. The distillation process effectively removes chemicals, including lead, which are left behind when the water transitions from a liquid to a gaseous state. Distillation units are relatively expensive and slow, though, so they're a less convenient and cost effective solution than filters or simple flushing of pipes.