Health Tips and Wellness Tips
 

A Guide to Handling Lead in Drinking Water

by George Anderson

Although most modern homes have lead free plumbing installation, there are still millions of houses that have older plumbing and thus increase the chances of higher lead levels in water. In the last two  decades, measures taken in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act have greatly diminished lead presence in drinking water. However, some metal water taps, pipes connecting homes to the main street pipe or interior water pipes might still produce such problems.
Water that stays in pipes for several hours can get contaminated with lead resulting from corrosion of the pipe itself or of the soldering.

 

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There is no other precise way to eliminate the threat of lead in your drinking water unless you have it tested for its chemical composition. The presence of lead cannot be detected by taste or smell, neither can you see the lead particles, as they are microscopic. Another approach is to ask your water provider what the lead concentration in the water is. If you are connected to a private supplier, they should have such information available. Public water providers also take this problem into account and you can usually get some detailed and accurate answers to your questions. Before calling your provider you might also want to try their website, where such information is usually posted.

The level of risk of drinking water high in lead levels is not high for most people, but it is a factor worth looking at. Elevated lead levels in your blood may lead to several complications, even in a healthy adult. Sick persons and those that are weaker due to age or other conditions may experience bigger problems when drinking lead contaminated water. Infants are at the highest risk, as their small body size might be affected by consuming water with high lead levels. The Environmental Protection Agency declared a level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) as the high limit of lead concentration in drinking water.

If you want to make sure that your water is risk free ask your local provider if the ppb level is below 15. If they answer yes, then you can safely drink water without any fear of increased lead levels. However, if they give you a negative answer, you should ask if the street service pipe has lead in it. If they say that the street pipe is lead free, than your problems might be coming from the pipes in your home. In order to get rid of water with excess lead, try to let cold water run for a few minutes. This ensures that water that has been sitting in pipes will be flushed out. Even if the water street pipe contains lead, the same procedure can be applied. You should always use water for drinking or cooking if it comes form the cold tap, not the hot one. Filtration systems applied directly on tap might also greatly reduce lead levels in the water that comes through your pipes.
About the Author

George Anderson loves old homes and has had to deal with lead in drinking water frequently.