FAQ’s: Lead in Drinking Water
How big is the lead problem?
There is no definitive answer to how big the lead in drinking water problem really is. There are three primary reason for this; 1) we don’t know everywhere lead has been used in plumbing, 2) testing for lead is not done everywhere and 3) reporting of lead problems has not been meeting standards.
Think about this: In the U.S. Lead is a regulated contaminant meaning it has health related effects and limits are set by the EPA. Given that, a municipal water treatment facility tests water for lead as it leaves the facility and water is treated if found above the MCL. The problem is that lead enters the water as it travels through the home plumbing and fixtures and there is no EPA requirement to test for or treat water in the home. Homes build before 1986 are at the highest risk for lead problems.
Is lead only a problem in the USA?
Absolutely not! High concentrations of lead in drinking water can be found anywhere lead has been used in plumbing and fixtures.
Where is the lead coming from?
Lead typically comes from plumbing and fixtures. Lead pipes, lead in soldier to joint pipes and lead in brass fixtures are the primary sources.
Is the lead problem with my municipal water system or private well?
Lead in drinking water is found because of plumbing and fixtures containing lead no matter what the water source is, public or private, and it does not matter whether the water comes from a surface source or drilled well.
What dose of lead presents a problem?
Any lead in drinking water is a problem. Current EPA regulations set the MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) limit or action level for lead in drinking water to 0.015 mg/L (15 ppb). The MCLG (Maximum Contaminant Level Goal) is zero.
What are the Health Effects of Lead on my family?
Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead.
Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
- Behavior and learning problems
- Lower IQ and Hyperactivity
- Slowed growth
- Hearing Problems
In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.
Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus the lead. This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including:
- Reduced growth of the fetus
- Premature birth
Lead can also be transmitted through breast milk.
Lead is also harmful to adults. Adults exposed to lead can suffer from:
- Cardiovascular effects, increased blood pressure and incidence of hypertension
- Decreased kidney function
- Reproductive problems (in both men and women)
For more information: <https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead>
How do I get my water tested for lead?
There are several options for testing your water for lead. We recommend having your water tested by a certified laboratory in your area. Your local department of health should be able to recommend a testing lab. Other options include: your local water treatment professional and self-testing with a lead kit that can be bought online. Keep in mind testing by way other than a certified lab should be considered a “peace of mind” test. Test results from a certified lab will be most accurate.
If there is lead present, how do I eliminate it?
Replacing pipes and fixtures containing lead is recommended as the best method of eliminating lead. Replacement can be expensive so treatment may be necessary. Typically treatment is at each faucet where you want to have lead free water by way of a cartridge filter certified to remove lead. The cartridge filters and removes lead from the water and this now lead free water is delivered by a separate treated water faucet. With proper maintenance, testing to be sure the cartridge is performing and regularly changing the cartridge you will have safe water for cooking and drinking at the treated water faucet.
About Cascadian Water
Based in Cle Elum, Wash., Cascadian Water is a privately-owned and operated company focused on water treatment solutions that serve residential, small business and professional customers. Established in 1994, the company develops and manufactures original water treatment solutions under the name Cascadian Water™, Integrated Cartridge Solutions™ and PolyHalt®.
Visit http://www.cascadianwater.com for more information.