About lead drinking water contamination, its health effects, lead water test, and options to filter it to protect your family’s drinking water.

 On January 16, President Obama declared a state of emergency in Flint, Michigan after hundreds of residents were exposed to lead through the city’s water supply. More towns are now testing their water supply and finding that they, too, may have lead contamination. Sebring, Ohio residents recently discovered that they have lead in their water as well.

We wanted to use this event as a platform to inform you about how you can detect lead in your water and how to protect yourself from it.

Due to its incredibly malleable and stable properties, lead has historically been used for many household items such as lead-based paint, plumbing, piping and private well infrastructure. The dangers of lead ingestion were only discovered in the late 1970’s when medical professionals saw a connection between lead-based products and the symptoms of lead poisoning. It was only then that the use of lead was banned in construction. However, most of the lead piping that had already been installed before that date was never fully removed. This is how many of us can be at risk. Below you will find some useful information about lead, the danger it presents, where it can come from, and how to protect yourself from it.

The Dangers of Lead Ingestion

If lead is ingested, it can be extremely harmful to your health. Lead exposure is particularly dangerous to young children because their developing brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead exposure. According to the World Health Organization:

“The neurological and behavioral effects of lead [are] reduced intelligence quotient (IQ), behavioral changes such as shortening of attention span and increased antisocial behavior, and reduced educational attainment, and they are believed to be irreversible.”

 

Where Lead Comes From 
Lead is a naturally-occurring element that is toxic if ingested. It has been used in a wide variety of products, most notably pipes, plumbing materials, and solders. Lead solder is basically the metal that was melted down to connect the pipes in your home, and prevent them from leaking. When we ingest lead through our water supply, it can cause serious and sometimes irreversible health problems.

How Lead Gets In the Drinking Water 
Lead can absorb or “leach” into the water on its way from the original water source to your faucet. “Leaching” is a natural process by which water-soluble substances (like lead, calcium, or fertilizers) are absorbed by water from pipes, soils, or other materials. The two main sources are the pipes and plumbing in your home, and using a private well for your water supply. Lead contamination typically occurs after treatment, while in route to your home.

Galvaniccorrosion

Pipes and Plumbing in Your House
Aging infrastructure—most importantly piping and plumbing systems—are the main contributor of lead in today’s water supply. If you live in a home or apartment building that was built before the 1980’s, there is a possibility that you still have lead solder connecting your copper pipes.

The lead from these pipes can find its way to your faucet as the water absorbs the substances in its path. The amount of lead from the plumbing system that may be dissolved depends on several factors including pH, water temperature, the age of the plumbing, water quality and standing time of the water in the plumbing system.

Private Wells
Private wells more than 20 years old may contain lead in the “packer” element that is used to help seal the well above the well screen. Some brands of older submersible pumps used in wells may also contain leaded-brass components. Corrosion of pipes and fixture parts can cause the lead to get into tap water.

How You Can Protect Yourself
The only way that you can tell if there is lead in your drinking water is to test it. There are a number of tests to identify lead including the PurTest Lead Test Kit and  the WaterCheck Test Kit

If you detect lead of other contaminates in your drinking water, it is important to try to identify and remove the source of the contaminate. If you are unable to remove the direct source, you must filter the lead out of the water through point-of-use systems. A point-of-use system typically requires installation under your sink.

To remove the lead from your drinking water, you need to employ a water treatment method such as reverse osmosis, distillation, or carbon filters specially formulated to remove lead. These methods are used to treat water at only one faucet, in which you can use a single filter.  For whole house protection an ion exchange water softener is effective.

In short, lead contamination can pose serious health risks, and we do not recommend you relying on chance. It is best to get your water tested, and go from there. For more information on lead and other water contaminates and how to protect your drinking water from them, visit our site at FreshWaterSystems.com.

Also take a look at this helpful infographic.

  Final infographic

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