How Lead Gets Into Your Drinking Water

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It is very important to know how Lead gets into your drinking water. But before that we need to know more about lead. Actually, its rigid yet pliable and flexible qualities make Lead (Pb) the preferred metal for water pipes long ago—a use that dates back to the prehistoric Romans.

But we now know this material has no place in our homes or drinking water infrastructure.

This is because lead is notoriously hazardous, with public health and medical specialists agreeing that no level of this element in the human body is safe. Furthermore, this potent, irreversible neurotoxin is especially dangerous to infants and young children.

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Human Exposure and Health Effects

Inhalation, ingestion, and, to a lesser extent, dermal contact can all result to lead exposure. The most common way individuals are exposed is by consuming old lead paint. As the paint deteriorates, it peels and degrades into dust, which enters the body via hand-to-mouth interaction or contamination of water or food.

There are also dangers of workplace exposure in industries that may come into direct contact with lead, such as construction, manufacturing, and solid waste or recycling. Some of the adverse health effects of Pb consumption include:

  • Lead poisoning is most dangerous to children under the age of six.
  • Elevated lead exposure can produce catastrophic brain, blood, and kidney injuries.
  • Lead exposure at low levels has been shown to lessen intellectual function and cause disruptive behavior in children permanently.
  • Long-term exposure can harm the reproductive system and cause infertility.
  • Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to lead because it can endanger the fetus, slowing growth and causing preterm delivery and miscarriage.

What Causes Lead To Enter My Drinking Water?

Rusting of household plumbing systems and erosion of natural deposits are the two primary sources of lead in drinking water. Lead gets into the water (“leaches”) through plumbing contact.

Lead enters water via corrosion, the dissolving or eroding of metal prompted by a chemical process among water and your plumbing. Soldiers, fixtures, pipes, faucets, and fittings can all leach lead into the water.

Mineral deposits in the water, the time water remains in the pipes, damage to the waterways, the water acidity, and temperature are only a few factors that could bring Pb contamination.

Although the primary sources of lead exposure are consuming paint chips and breathing dust, the EPA estimates that lead in drinking water accounts for 20% or more of human lead-related exposure. Infants who consume mixed formula may receive 40 to 60% of their lead exposure from drinking water.

How Can You Tell If Your Tap Water Contains Lead?

You can determine whether or not there is lead in your water supply by contacting your municipal water supplier, testing your water with a household lead test kit, and determining whether or not your home has lead pipes.

Because lead is odorless and flavorless in water, testing is the only way to know if your home’s water system contains this threatening contaminant.

Municipal water providers test the water supply regularly, and if you request the results, the law mandates you to provide them. However, a municipal water test will not reveal whether a lead is entering your water through your household plumbing, so a home lead test is recommended.

Furthermore, the homeowner must examine the water for lead and other toxins if you use well water.

Know: Top 4 Signs that You are Drinking Contaminated Water

How To Test Water For Lead

Most household lead screening tests are simple to use, requiring only the placement of a test strip in a specimen of your water. Sadly, most household screening tests will only tell you whether your water contains lead or not.

They won’t inform you how much lead is in your water. The EPA recommends hiring a state-certified research lab to conduct a test to determine the exact amount of this element in your water.

  • Checking Your Pipelines

You can use a scratch test to check your pipes for lead. Scratch any rust built up on a tube with a coin or the flat edge of a screwdriver. The tube is most likely made of lead if the scratched area seems shiny and silver.

While this test can help you determine whether your home’s water supply is at risk of lead contamination, it is always best to have your pipes professionally inspected by a water expert or a certified plumber.

How Do You Get Lead Out Of Water?

When configured for lead reduction, distillation, reverse osmosis, and activated carbon filtration can remove lead from water. Le ad can also be removed by recognizing and replacing all lead-containing pipes and pipework in your home.

However, because water may pass through lead pipes before reaching your home pipes, one of the following filtration systems can provide valuable lead defense and peace of mind. 

You can configure filtration systems as point of use (POU) filters or whole house filters, but we recommend POU filters for lead reduction. Installing a point-of-use filter on each faucet in your home will protect you if lead is present in municipal water or your home plumbing.

A whole-house filter, on the other hand, would only safeguard you from lead in the public water supply. Point-of-use filters, water distillers, reverse osmosis systems, and carbon filters can all be placed to ensure that the water you drink is lead-free.

    1. Filters Made Of Activated Carbon

Carbon filters are activated carbon, which has many pores on their surface and infrastructure. When water passes through, activated carbon, chemicals, and other toxins are trapped, and clean water emerges on the other side.

We should note that not all carbon filters can remove lead. They can only filter lead if certified, necessitating the use of carbon specially treated to reduce lead or combining carbon with another filtration media crafted and accredited to remove lead.

To ensure your filter has been tested and certified, look for the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) authorization or the Water Quality Association certification.

     2. Distillation

Distillation is a method of water treatment that resembles how water is cleaned in nature: by evaporation in the atmosphere.

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Water distillers transform water into steam, removing lead and other pollutants that cannot be converted into steam by water. The water is contaminant-free once it comes back to its liquid state.

    3. Reverse Osmosis

When pressure forces unfiltered water or feeds water through a semipermeable membrane, reverse osmosis removes contaminants. To provide clean drinking water, water flows from the more concentrated side (with more contaminants) of the RO membrane to the less focused side (with fewer contaminants).

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The permeate is the freshwater produced. The concentrated water that remains is known as waste or brine.

A semipermeable membrane has tiny pores that allow contaminants to pass through while allowing water molecules to pass through. Water becomes more concentrated as it goes through the membrane in osmosis to achieve equilibrium on both sides. However, reverse osmosis prevents pollutants like lead from entering the membrane’s less concentrated side.

You can reduce the chance of lead in tap water by only using cold water and letting it run for a few minutes before using it. Hot water rusts lead and make it easier for lead to dissolve in water than cold water. It is safer to get cold water from the tap and afterward heat it yourself if you need hot water for drinking or cooking. Boiling water, contrary to common belief, does not remove lead. Furthermore, the longer water sits in lead pipelines, the more likely lead will leach into the water.

Last verdict

It is very important to know the signs of lead in your drinking water. Basically, you will experience the unusual abdominal pain, vomiting, fatigue,  loss of appetite, and irritability if you drink such water.

However,  since you cannot see, taste, or smell dissolved lead in water, testing is the only sure way of telling whether there are harmful quantities of lead in your drinking water.  Therefore, you must ask your water provider whether your water has lead in it.

About Victor Tannos

Vick is a researcher, freelancer, content writer, and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. Vick uses that curiosity, combined with his experience as a freelance to write about valuable topics on health, fitness, and lifestyle.

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