October 23, 2022

The EPA wants to eliminate lead pipes. Baltimore is asking homeowners to find them.

The EPA Wants to Eliminate Lead Pipes. Baltimore is Asking Homeowners to Find Them.

Baltimore city lead pipe identification initiative

In a concerted effort to eliminate lead contamination in drinking water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing for the removal of all lead pipes. Complementing this federal initiative, the city of Baltimore is taking a unique approach by enlisting the help of its residents. Homeowners are being asked to identify and report any lead pipes connecting to their properties.

The Dangers of Lead in Drinking Water

Lead is a harmful contaminant that can have severe health effects, particularly on children, affecting their brain development and causing other long-term health issues. Lead typically makes its way into drinking water through old lead pipes that connect the main water line to homes, especially in older cities like Baltimore.

Baltimore’s Proactive Approach

Recognizing the scale of the challenge, Baltimore has launched a proactive campaign to locate lead service lines. Homeowners are encouraged to inspect their water service lines for lead and report their findings to the city. This information will help expedite the replacement process and ensure that the most affected areas are prioritized.

How Homeowners Can Identify Lead Pipes

  • Physical Inspection: Homeowners can check the service line entering their home. Lead pipes are generally dull gray, soft enough to be scratched with a house key, and do not attract magnets.
  • Use of Test Kits: Lead check kits are available at most hardware stores, allowing homeowners to conduct a simple test to determine if their pipes are made of lead.

Challenges and Opportunities

The initiative is ambitious and faces challenges, particularly in educating homeowners about how to correctly identify lead pipes and in ensuring that there is comprehensive compliance across the city. However, it also presents an opportunity for community engagement and proactive health protection.


The collaborative effort between the EPA’s national mission to eliminate lead pipes and Baltimore’s local strategy to engage homeowners directly is a vital step towards a safer, healthier future free from lead contamination. As more cities potentially adopt similar strategies, the impact could be significant, protecting generations to come.

For more information on how to identify lead pipes in your home or to learn more about the initiative, visit Baltimore’s city water authority website or contact local environmental health departments.