According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, EPA estimates that 20 percent or more of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.”
Lead is a toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes and other buildings. Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities, high blood pressure, kidney problems and other issues. Although everyone is at risk of exposure to lead, children six years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing.
Lead was sometimes used in household plumbing materials or in water service lines used to bring water from the main to the home or building. A prohibition on lead in plumbing materials has been in effect since 1986. The lead ban (1986 Amendments of the Safe Drinking Water Act) states that only “lead free” pipe, solder, or flux may be used in the installation or repair of (1) public water systems, or (2) any plumbing in a residential or non-residential facility providing water for human consumption, which is connected to a public water system. However, even “lead free” plumbing may contain traces of lead.
Although most water systems do test for lead as a regular part of their monitoring programs, these tests give a system-wide picture and do not reflect conditions at a specific drinking water outlet.
The EPA reports, “Lead is rarely found in source water, but enters tap water through corrosion of plumbing materials. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures which can leach significant amounts of lead into the water, especially hot water.”
The amount of lead in drinking water also depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the amount of wear in the pipes, the water’s acidity and its temperature. Fortunately, there are commercial testing services available that can determine if the water in a home, school or business contains elevated levels of lead.
These are just a few things to know about the hazards of lead in drinking water. To learn more about this or other environmental, health and safety, occupational, indoor air quality or property damage issues, please visit the websites shown below.
Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com