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4 Ways To Reduce Lead In Your Water

Glass at water tap and filling water with lead contamination
Glass at water tap and filling water with lead contamination

Lead poisoning is typically associated with lead-based paint, but it can also be found in numerous unexpected places like drinking water. Ever since the Flint water crisis made headlines in 2014, more and more people have become aware of the risks of drinking lead-contaminated water.

The effects of lead poisoning are dangerous and harmful, especially in young children. People may experience nausea, pregnancy complications, developmental delays, and more. No one wants to deal with the symptoms of lead poisoning, so what can you do to reduce your risk of being exposed to lead in drinking water? Read on to learn how lead can contaminate water, what you can do to reduce lead levels, and steps to take if you get infected.

How Does Lead Get Into Drinking Water?

Nowadays, lead in drinking water is far less common than it was a hundred years ago. Thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act, lead exposures have decreased drastically.

But even still, lead can appear in drinking water if water travels through lead service lines that connect a home to the main water line. Even homes without lead service lines may have other items soldered with lead, such as:

  • Brass or chrome-plated brass faucets
  • Galvanized iron pipes
  • Lead-lined water tanks

Lead can infiltrate drinking water when a particular chemical reaction happens in plumbing materials containing lead. This reaction is known as corrosion, which dissolves or wears away metal from pipes and fixtures. Water with high acidity or low mineral content can cause more severe corrosion. How much lead ultimately enters the water is based on:

  • Acidity or alkalinity of the water
  • Types and amounts of minerals in the water
  • Amount of lead the water comes in contact with
  • Level of wear on the pipes
  • Water temperature
  • Length of time the water stays in pipes
  • Presence of protective scales or coatings in the pipes

Steps You Can Take to Reduce Lead in Water

No safe blood level of lead has been identified for young children, meaning all lead exposures are considered dangerous. Lead is a toxic metal that can accumulate in the body over time. Unfortunately, you cannot see, smell, or taste lead in drinking water. Since lead is not noticeable to the naked eye, you need to test for the presence of lead if you have any suspicion of it, such as living in a house built before 1978.

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to reduce lead levels in your drinking water. Begin by having your water tested by a professional, and then take the necessary steps afterward.

1. Get Your Water Tested

After moving into a new house or apartment and identifying that you have a suspicion of lead, you must contact your water company to determine if the pipe that connects your home to the main water line is made from lead. Your water company will also be able to provide information about the lead levels in your drinking water.

Next, call your local health department to schedule a water test. Lead water testing typically costs between $20 and $100, but some cities and states offer free or reduced-cost programs. An official water test will confirm the lead levels in your water. When collecting samples for testing, make sure to avoid turning on the water in your home for at least six hours before sampling.

2. Let Your Water Run

Certain cities have local ordinances about flushing tap water if it hasn’t been turned on for several hours. If it is confirmed that you have lead present in your water, be sure to flush your home’s pipes before drinking any water. You can flush your pipes by:

  • Letting the tap water run
  • Taking a shower
  • Doing laundry
  • Running the dishwasher or handwashing dishes

The amount of time to run the water will depend on specific circumstances, such as the length of the lead service line in your home. Your water utility company will recommend how long to run water before it’s safe to drink.

3. Use a Certified Filter

Another way you can reduce lead in water is to use a filter that is certified to remove lead. Look for a filter that has an NSF/ANSI standard 53 for lead removal. When using these filters, it is essential to properly install and replace the cartridge when needed. If you use a cartridge after it has expired, it will be significantly less effective at removing lead. Never pour hot water through a filter.

4. Only Use Cold Water

Lead levels can be reduced in drinking water by only using cold water for drinking, cooking, and mixing baby formula. While it is commonly thought that hot water is cleaner, that anecdote does not apply to lead. Boiling water does not remove lead from water. Warm and hot water is more likely to contain elevated levels of lead. It is worth mentioning that showering in lead-contaminated water does not cause lead poisoning. The only way lead can cause poisoning through water is by ingesting it.

Water Inspections in Colorado

Never take a chance on water purity or the condition of your well in Colorado or any other state for that matter.  Water is the primary source for all living things and clean water is essential for humans to remain in good health.  In rural areas, we rely on our wells to produce clean and pure water and in Colorado, especially in the mountainous areas, well water is what we use 99% of the time. PineBreeze Inspections will protect your family by making sure not only your water is safe, but the systems supporting your clean water are fully functional and efficient.  When we are finished with your well and water inspection, you can hydrate with confidence!