Elevated levels of lead found in the water has resulted in the New York City health and environmental officials advising residents to let the tap water run for a minimum of 30 seconds before either drinking or cooking with it.

Though the results do not pose a potential health threat as the lead levels have been declining since the 1990’s precautionary measures have been advised. “The elevations seen in the city’s recent tests have been too small to pose clear health threats,” said Thomas Farley, the city’s health commissioner, in a statement. “But the best level of lead exposure is zero, especially for children and pregnant women.”

Farrell Sklerov, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Environmental Protection said that the levels of lead in the tap water have been steadily dropping. This is mainly the result of a food preservative, phosphoric acid, added to the water by the department. It creates a protective layer on pipes and prevents the metals from leaching.

As hot water absorbs lead easily it is advisable to allow the tap water to run for 30 seconds. The water that is left in the pipe line for hours becomes hot and lead sediments may be found in it. Eric Goldstein, a lawyer who monitors drinking water issues at the Natural Resources Defense Council, echoed city officials’ suggested that, “The latest test results are reason for caution, not panic. Lead exposures from all sources have declined significantly for New Yorkers over the past several decades. But every practical step should be taken to eliminate all lead exposures, especially for babies and toddlers.”