Is there Lead in My Drinking Water?
Alarming reports have come out over the last few years about the prevalence of lead in tap water throughout the U.S. The large number of homes with lead pipes, solder and fixtures are the primary source of the problem. Most homes built before 1986 have lead plumbing. Even newer homes, built as late as 2014, may have pipes and fixtures with more lead in them than what is now considered safe. The lead in these plumbing fixtures can leech into tap water when the pipes become corroded. Unless you know that your home’s plumbing fixtures are made of materials with less than 0.25% lead, it is a good idea to have your water tested.
Indicators of Lead in your Tap Water
If any of the following descriptions are true of your home, your tap water is likely to have some level of lead in it.
Your house or local public water system lead pipes. (Check out the Consumer Confidence Report, CCR, of your local water system to find out if it has corroded lead pipes.)
Your house, apartment building or condo is more than 5 years old.
The brass fittings or faucets in your home contain some amount of lead.
Your home has copper pipes with lead solder.
You have soft water (i.e. water that is low in ions of calcium and magnesium).
When Should You Test Water for Lead?
The most important time to have your water tested is if you or someone in your home is pregnant or has small children. No amount of lead in water is safe for pregnant women or children to use or consume. Lead is a powerful neurotoxin that impairs the intellectual development of fetuses and children. It also alters their behavior and ability to concentrate. The effects of early exposure to lead, in utero and childhood, are permanent and irreversible. While short-term exposure to low amounts of lead is less harmful for adults (because our bodies and minds are fully developed), long-term exposure to higher levels can result in serious damage to the nervous system, kidneys, red blood cells and brain.
Despite the harmful impacts of even low levels of lead exposure, U.S. regulations allow public water to have up to 15 parts per billion (ppb). Any amount over that is considered dangerous.
Tips for Reducing Lead Exposure
Replacing pipes, faucets and solder with lead in them is the best way to reduce your exposure to lead. Here are three other important tips for reducing lead exposure:
1. Always flush your pipes.
The longer water sits in your pipes, the more lead can leach into it. Flushing your pipes, or letting cold water run out of the faucet for 5 to 30 seconds, will allow the water with the highest concentration of lead to run out so that the water you use has lower amounts.
2. Only use cold tap water for drinking, cooking and baby formula.
Heating up or boiling water does not remove lead. Since hot water sits in your pipes longer, it tends to have higher lead. This is why you should only cold tap water—after flushing your pipes—for drinking, cooking and making baby formula.
3. Install a water purification and treatment system.
If the lead in your water is from your local water system or you cannot afford the cost of replacing your plumbing, installing a water treatment system that has been certified to remove lead is another smart solution.
How to Test Water for Lead
Professional water testing is the best way to determine if the water that flows out of your tap is safe. You cannot taste, see or smell lead in water. If you are located in Polk Country Florida, you can have your water tested for free by Tri-Florida Water Treatment! We offer this service to you because we know how important it is to have safe, clean water. If we cannot help you, you can use the EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline to find a Water Quality Association site or other local water testing agency.
Want to get your water tested? Sign up today through our website by filling out a simple form!