Each time we turn on the news or flip through articles in a news feed we see article after article about cities, villages and towns of all sizes 'suddenly realizing' they may lead contamination in their drinking water... but we see another problem: Everyone's looking for someone to blame or hold accountable, but not enough folks offer the average citizen simple information on the situation. We'd like to change that.
How do they know lead's in the water?
Simple testing for lead should take place on water distributed by public water systems on a regular basis.
How much lead in drinking water is harmful to me?
Pretty much all water quality experts agree that drinking water with lead concentrations of 15ppb (parts per billion) or more should not get consumed by pregnant women or children.
Drinking water that contains lead concentration up to15ppb should get filtered if native to the water supply or flushed with cold water if it comes from a building's plumbing, fixtures, faucets, etc.
Where did the lead come from?
OK, so we (now) know lead in drinking water not only exists, but that it definitely poses a larger threat to the general population than many people imagined. So where did the lead come from?
- Banned in the mid-1980's and not widely used since before World War II, lead pipes ran through older buildings.
- Banned at around the same time as lead plumbing in homes, the solder used to connect copper tubing used in plumbing often contained high levels of lead.
- Older fixtures, fittings, and valves made of brass sometimes contained lead.
- If water mains and/or plumbing leading to a faucet contain lead, the possibility exists that bits and flakes of lead may break loose and get caught in the faucet's screen.
- For a long time water mains running from water treatment plants to homes, schools and businesses contained lead -- and some still do.
- Many drinking water fountains manufactured before the late 1980's contained lead components.
While the above methods by which lead may enter the tap water of a home, school, or business represent the most common sources of lead contamination, please keep in mind that other means of contamination may exist, as well.
How can I tell if plumbing in my older home is made of lead?
When scratched, a lead pipe will appear shiny at the location of the scratch while the rest of the pipe usually has a dull gray color.
I have well water and PVC plumbing... so am I safe?
Not necessarily. Lead occurs naturally in the environment so well water experts suggest periodic testing for lead in well water along with other critical water quality parameters.
If no 'events' threaten the integrity if a well, then many well water experts believe annual testing for critical water quality parameters (like dissolved lead) should suffice.
Is testing for lead in water expensive?
No, not really. A basic DIY water test kit for dissolved lead in water from WaterSafe costs less than $15 and takes just a few minutes to perform.
BUT, should a basic test kit indicate the potential presence of dangerous levels of lead in your water, laboratory testing to determine the full extent of lead contamination will cost a bit more.
And if a simple test shows I have lead in my water?
If you test your water and get a positive result for lead, then we suggest having your water tested by a qualified water testing laboratory so that you can determine the extent of contamination and begin your search for the appropriate water treatment system. Sites like Filter-Drinking-Water.Com, FilterWater.Com, and FiltersFast.Com offer selections of filters that efficiently reduce quantities of lead and other unwanted heavy metals in drinking water.