In this post, we’ll provide all the details you should know about lead contamination (Signs of Lead in Tap Water) and its effects on our health. I know the Flint lead water crisis has gotten you shaken up.
So. How do you tell if your tap water is lead contaminated? But, you cannot taste, smell, or see lead in tap water. The only guaranteed way is to have the water tested for lead.
However, you should be suspicious if your home has lead pipes, plumbing with lead fittings, and a lead water tank. Further, if you notice signs of rot like rust-colored water, frequent leaks, and stained laundry or dishes, you need to consult a professional.
Details: Signs of Lead in Tap Water
Just like the Flint water crisis, lead can get into your drinking water when lead plumbing materials like pipes, fittings, faucets, and fixtures corrode. When these materials corrode, they start to discharge lead into your drinking water.
According to EPA, Corrosion occurs when water in a given region has a low mineral or a high acid content and settles inside pipes for hours.
The most common source of lead in most homes is lead pipes that connect the whole house to the main water supply. Homes constructed before 1986 might have a plumbing system with lead materials.
Newer homes are also likely to have the same lead issue. Until 2014, plumbing fittings with 8% lead was considered “lead-free”.
Although there is a reduction in percentage to 0.25%, fittings, and fixtures installed before the amendment are still in use.
Moreover, it’s possible that newer fixtures will release considerable amounts of lead into the water. This is because of the calculations of the lead-by-weight average.
Health Effects of Lead in Drinking Water
Exposure to lead will have detrimental health effects on young children, unborn babies, and infants. Adults also experience undesirable health effects after lead contamination.
For children, exposure to lead can cause learning disabilities, impaired hearing, shorter stature, irritability, fatigue, and damage to the central nervous system.
For pregnant women, lead accumulates in the body over time and is stored in bones together with calcium. If a woman doesn’t have adequate dietary calcium, The lead disguises itself as maternal calcium. Hence, the body releases it to form fetus bones.
In addition, lead can pass through the placenta and expose the fetus to lead. All these issues can have severe effects on both the mother and the growing fetus. For example, the woman can get a premature birth or the fetus growth will reduce.
For adults, drinking contaminated lead water can also affect the health of adults in the following ways:
- Increased blood pressure,
- Reduced kidney function,
- Abdominal pain,
- Cardiovascular disease, and
- Constipation among other serious health issues.
Is It Okay To Shower in Lead Contaminated Water?
The simple answer is yes! Bathing and showering with lead-contaminated water are safe. Just don’t drink the water. The good thing is Human skin doesn’t absorb lead in the water.
How Will You Know You Are At Risk?
The sad part about Lead Contamination is that you might actually not know whether your water is contaminated. You’ll unknowingly drink toxic water and put your health at risk.
So, How Will You Know You Are At Risk?
Thanks to technology, you can conveniently order a water test kit online. With the kit, you can quickly determine the safety of your water.
However, if you prefer a professional to do the test for you, you can send your water sample to the laboratory for more analysis.
Furthermore, you can call your local water supplier. Most Municipal water suppliers conduct mandatory testing on the water.
Therefore, they can send you records that indicate the type and levels of contaminants they discovered during their last routine inspection.
What Do You Do If There’s Lead In Your Water?
If you discover lead in your drinking water, take the following steps.
1. Run Your Taps on Cold Water
Running cold water for 5 minutes through your taps flashes off the water that might have settled in the corroded pipes.
You can fill the water in clean containers and use it for cooking, drinking, or making baby formula. Boiling water will actually increase the lead level
2. Use Filtered or Bottled Water Only
Bottled and filtered water should be your choice at this point. However, you need to check the quality of the bottled water.
Some of the bottled water is just ordinary tap water that has not gone through any tests.
In addition, some filters don’t remove lead. Conduct some background research on the water or filters you intend to use.
Visit the NSF website or other non-profit organization websites that provide water quality and product accreditation.
It advises caution when it comes to choosing lead-removing products as most popular filters don’t meet the set standards for lead removal.
3. Health Checkup
Visit a health facility together with your whole family and have everyone’s blood tested for lead.
This way, you’ll know whether or not the lead contamination has affected you and the necessary steps to take.
4. Seek Plumbing Services
Let a certified plumber check all your pipes. If the plumber advises’s you to replace the pipes, replace them with the best quality.
Is There An Acceptable Lead Level In Drinking Water?
Lead is a dangerous heavy metal that will cause devastating health effects to both children and adults. EPA has even set the acceptable lead level in water at zero.
Therefore, avoid any exposure to lead. even at low exposure lead is hazardous.
The scary thing is that lead accumulates in the body over time. Therefore, if you are exposed to lead you may not feel the effects immediately, but with time, you’ll suffer seriously.
Should I Be Worried About Lead Contamination If I Am Using Well Water?
The short answer is yes! Especially if the well is new, a lead test is important. If your main source of water is a private well, then it’s your responsibility to take care of the safety and quality of the water.
The Environmental Protection Agency recommends yearly testing. However, if you have young children or a pregnant woman, then water testing must be your priority to rule out any contamination issue.
Lead is a naturally occurring metal and you can find it in small amounts on the surface of the earth. Although, it’s uncommon to find it in groundwater.
Some home-use pipes and other plumbing materials contain lead. Hence, lead can get in the water as water moves from the pipes after leaving the well.
To counter these issues, you can install a whole house filter for well water. Most of these filters are excellent at removing lead and other contaminants.
Lead water contamination is real. Children are the most affected when it comes to this kind of contamination as their immunity is not strong enough.
It’s important to regularly test your water for lead contamination. Contact your local municipality for water testing.
You can also check out the websites of institutions that deal with water quality and safety. These websites provide drinking water requirements for different states.