Lead in Water

Lead in Water

Lead has been determined to be a significant health hazard if ingested, especially by children. Lead damages the brain and nervous system, adversely affects behavior and learning, slows growth, and causes problems related to hearing, pregnancy, high blood pressure, the nervous system, memory and concentration.

Lead in drinking water is a direct result of lead that is part of the plumbing system itself. Lead solder was used in pipe fittings in houses constructed prior to 1988. Lead has been used in plumbing fixtures, such as faucets.  And in some older homes, the service water pipe from the main in the street to the house is made of lead.

The transfer of lead into water is determined primarily by exposure, which is the length of time that water is in contact with lead. Two other factors that affect the transfer are water temperature (hot water dissolves lead quicker than cold water) and water acidity (“soft” water is slightly corrosive and reacts with lead).

The current federal standard for lead in water is a limit of 15 parts per billion.

The only way to find out whether there is lead in the house’s water is to have the water tested by an approved laboratory. If there is evidence of lead in the system, consider having your home’s water tested for lead. If the house has a water filter, check to see if it is certified to remove lead. 

For more information on lead in drinking water, call the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-462-4791, or visit the website of the EPA Office of Water at www.nachi.org/go/epasafewater 

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