Why Is Lead a Health Concern?
Lead is a toxic material, known to be harmful to human health if ingested or inhaled. Lead in the body can damage the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells. Children, infants, pregnant women and their unborn children are especially vulnerable to lead. In children, lead has been associated with impaired mental and physical development, as well as hearing problems. The harmful effects of lead in the body can be subtle and may occur without any obvious signs of lead poisoning.
How Does Lead Get into Drinking Water?
Lead generally enters drinking water from a building’s plumbing system. Lead may be present in various parts of the plumbing system (such as lead solder, brass fixtures, and lead pipes) and is picked up by the water passing through the plumbing system. The amount of lead, if any, in a plumbing system will depend on the materials from which the system was constructed. Even new plumbing fixtures can leach lead into the drinking water. The amount of contact time between water and any lead source is the greatest contributing factor to lead in drinking water. The longer water remains standing in the plumbing system, the more lead it can absorb from any lead sources present. For this reason, the lead concentration is at its highest when water has remained unused overnight or over a weekend. Additionally, factors such as water chemistry and temperature can affect the rate at which water absorbs lead.
How Do I Know If My Tap Water Is Contaminated With Lead?
The only way to know whether your tap water contains lead is to have it tested. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. Therefore, you must ask your water provider whether your water has lead in it. For operations served by public water systems, data on lead in tap water may be available on the Internet from your local water authority. If your water provider does not post this information, you should call and find out.
What Can I Do To Reduce Lead In My Tap Water?
If your tap water contains lead at levels exceeding EPA’s action level of 15 ppb, you should take action to minimize exposure to the lead in the water. Installing a lead-reducing water filtration system is one alternative to help address the problem and protect your business and its customers.