According to American Water Works Association, plumbing within a home whether it is a single-family residence, condo or apartment, is one common source for lead in tap water. Since recent events like the lead contamination water crisis in Flint, Michigan in 2015, lead in drinking water has raised many concerns for Americans. The consumption of water with high levels of lead is a serious health problem and lead levels that exceed the standards set by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can cause serious damage to a person’s kidneys, nervous system, and brain. Those most vulnerable to harmful amounts of lead are younger children and pregnant women. Unfortunately, lead does not have a taste or smell and boiling the water does not remove lead it can actually concentrate the levels. Beyond having your water tested for lead, knowing your pipe system is critical in determining if you’re at risk for high levels of lead in your drinking water. You may be wondering, how can I limit my exposure to lead?
Lead levels in drinking water can be more common depending on the age of your facility, materials used for your potable water system, and how long water sits dormant in the pipes. A property’s potable system could be more at risk under the following conditions:
- Facility was built before 1986 and you have soft or acidic water
- Water system has lead pipes, lead soldering or a lead service line
- Potable pipes made of copper pipes with lead solder
- If water sits dormant in a potable system for several hours a day
- According to state and federal laws, water is treated to minimize the risk of the lead with chlorine and other chemicals. However, treated water from the main can still become contaminated with lead once it has gone through the service and on the private side if the existing system contains lead. Here are ways for to reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.
1. FLUSHING YOUR TAP WATER
If the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours, run your tap on cold water for 30 seconds to a couple minutes before using it for drinking or cooking. More lead is typically found in dormant water systems. To conserve water, collect the running water and water your plants.
2. DON’T COOK WITH HOT FAUCET WATER
Before you cook your favorite pasta dish, fill up your pot of water to boil using cold water. Hot water has the potential to contain higher levels of lead.
3. REMOVE DEBRIS AND LEAD SOLDERING
In buildings with new water pipe systems or renovated homes, remove the strainers from each faucet and run the water for 3 to 5 minutes. Facet strainers are mesh-like and can be easily removed from faucets. When replacing or working on pipes, making sure all materials used are lead-free. Lead soldering was used before the 1930’s to join copper pipes. Lead-soldered joints will increase the chance of lead leaching into your drinking water. Lead-based soldering in pipe systems has since been banned.
4. LEAD-FREE FIXTURES
If you’re renovating or building a home or condo, choose a faucet that shows a “lead-free” label. In 2011, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act mandated that fixtures must be made with a weighted average of .25% of lead or less to be considered “lead-free.”
5. EPOXY BARRIER COATING
If your plumbing system has high levels of lead contamination, the root of the problem could be eliminated with Nu Line epoxy barrier coatings. The process first removes all buildup inside the pipe, followed by an even coat of NSF 61 approved epoxy coating that adheres to the inside wall of pipes. This creates a barrier between the pipe (whether lead, copper etc.) and the water flowing through it, eliminating your risk for contamination.
Taking these five precautions will help minimize the risks of high levels of lead in your water. If you have a property that was built before 1986 or you know that you have lead pipes or soldering, having your water tested would be beneficial to know how contaminated your water may be. Lead kits test for lead in pipe systems and pick up on lead soldering. Once you know the condition of your water pipe system you’ll be able to consider services that can help you reduce your lead levels.