Lead in Drinking Water

Lead in Drinking Water: Lead for Breakfast?

Chris Tracey ·

Lead in Drinking Water

How would you like to give your family a nice dose of lead for breakfast? Sound crazy? Well, it may not be as crazy as you think. Here is why:

Most of us already know that ingesting lead (from any source) can lead to health problems, especially in small children. This is the main reason lead paint was banned in 1978. But there are other ways lead can get into our bodies, and one of them is through our household plumbing systems.

The amount of possible lead in your drinking water is dependent, in many ways, on the age of your home. Older homes were often plumbed with copper pipes. In order to join these pipes, lead solder was often used. Homes that were built before 1930 or so often had pipes that were made of lead! In both cases, lead pipes and lead solder increase your risk of lead associated health issues.

One of the most important considerations families should keep in mind if they have lead solder or lead pipes in the home is that lead will actually leech into standing water. What this means for most homeowners with lead piping or solder is that water that is left standing overnight (in the water pipes) will often have very high levels of lead in it first thing in the morning. If you get up in the morning and fill your coffee pot or make your baby formula without first allowing the water to flow into the drain, you may be giving your family a very high dose of lead. By allowing the water to flow to waste for a minute or so, you can help flush out the lead that has accumulated overnight. It is important to do this with all faucets that provide water that might be ingested ie, kitchen and bathrooms.

Another good tip to keep in mind is that you often find higher levels of lead in hot water systems than in cold water systems. For this reason, you should never use hot water from the tap to mix your baby formula or for cooking in general.

An excellent way to protect your family from unsafe lead levels is to install a point-of-use water filter system on each faucet that is used for drinking water. This would include the kitchen as well as bathrooms where people brush their teeth or rinse their mouths.

If you suspect you have lead in your household drinking water, have the water tested. You should collect two samples. One sample should be collected first thing in the morning, without any flushing of the system. And the second sample taken in the afternoon after water has been used in a normal manner throughout the house. Lead testing is the only reliable way to know if you have a problem or not.

Should you discover you have a problem with lead in your home, consider having your pipes replaced, if that is the cause of the problem, and consult with a reputable water filter vendor to discuss the options you have for point-of-use water filtration devices.

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