The city of Birmingham on Monday issued a public advisory after five out of 32 homes tested positive for lead in drinking water. White Lake Township did the same last week after three homes showed similarly elevated lead levels.
The federal safety standard for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion. The homes in Birmingham tested at 17 parts per billion, and in White Lake Township, at 21 parts per billion.
Both communities are urging residents to take precautions and are giving out free filters to lower-income residents who meet certain guidelines. Filters will be given out Tuesday in Birmingham and Thursday in White Lake Township.
"The quality of our drinking water is paramount and we stand ready to support our local communities with these and future test results," Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said in a release Monday night.
The homes tested in Birmingham all have lead service lines, the city said. About 550 houses in the city have lead service lines, the lines connecting city water mains to the home.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who helped expose the lead crisis in Flint five years ago, said the testing is the result of better oversight of Michigan's drinking water, and "reflect the potential risk posed for anyone that lives in a home with a lead service line. I’m hopeful that Birmingham will seize this opportunity to respect the science of lead’s neurotoxicity, be proactive and transparent, invest in getting the lead out of pipes."
About 6 percent of water customers in Birmingham have lead service lines, and the results show fewer than 1 in 5 of those customers have elevated lead levels in their water. However, no amount of lead exposure is considered safe, and customers should take steps to ensure their household water is safe to drink. This includes installing whole-house water filters and letting water run for three to five minutes before using it.