The Importance of Testing for Lead in Your Water
Often tap water with lead results from old corroded fixtures or pipes, or from the solder that connects the pipes. When water sits in contaminated pipes for a period of time, lead has a better chance of leaching into the water. It is tasteless and has no smell so it is impossible to know if it is there unless you have it tested.
What are the Potential Health Effects of High Levels of Lead in Tap Water?
Lead in the water may enter the bloodstream and cause an elevated blood lead level. Most studies show that exposure to lead-contaminated water alone would not be likely to elevate blood lead levels in most adults, even exposure to water with a lead content close to the EPA action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Risk will vary, however, depending on the individual, the circumstances, and the amount of water consumed. For example, infants who drink formula prepared with lead-contaminated water may be at a higher risk because of the large volume of water they consume relative to their body size.
Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure. Therefore, for homes with children or pregnant women and with water lead levels exceeding EPA’s action level of 15 ppb, the CDC recommends using bottled water or water from a filtration system that has been certified by an independent testing organization to reduce or eliminate lead for cooking, drinking, and baby formula preparation.
Public Water and Lead
For homes served by public water systems, data on lead in tap water may be available on online or from your local water authority. If your water provider does not post this information, you should call and find out if your water lead levels above the EPA’s action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). You can also ask if the service pipe at the street has lead in it. If the header pipe in the street does not have lead but your levels are still high, the lead in your tap water may be coming from fixtures, pipes, or elsewhere inside your home.
Sources of Lead in Drinking Water
Lead levels in your drinking water are likely to be highest if:
- Your home has faucets or fittings of brass which contains some lead
- Your home or water system has lead pipes
- Your home has copper pipes with solder
- The house is less than five years old or is very old
- You have naturally soft water
- Water often sits in the pipes for several hours
How Do I Reduce Lead in My Drinking Water?
If your tap water contains lead at levels exceeding EPA’s action level of 15 ppb, you should take action to minimize your exposure to the lead in the water. Here are some recommendations according to the EPA:
- Before using any tap water for drinking or cooking, flush your water system by running the kitchen tap (or any other tap you take drinking or cooking water from) on COLD for 1–2 minutes
- Then, fill a clean container(s) with water from this tap. This water will be suitable for drinking, cooking, preparation of baby formula, or other consumption. To conserve water, collect multiple containers of water at once (after you have fully flushed the water from the tap as described).
- In all situations, drink or cook only with water that comes out of the tap cold. Water that comes out of the tap warm or hot can contain much higher levels of lead. Boiling this water will NOT reduce the amount of lead in your water.
- You can also reduce or eliminate your exposure to lead in drinking water by consuming only bottled water or water from a filtration system that has been certified by an independent testing organization to reduce or eliminate lead.
- Make sure that repairs to copper pipes do not use lead solder.
The best way to know your lead levels in your home is to contact a professional. 5-Star Google-rated, Angell’s Home Inspection can inspect your home for lead and recommend remediation professionals if needed. Call us today at (860) 402-6644 or schedule your inspection here.