The Effects of Lead in Drinking Water
Stories about lead being found in drinking water pop up all the time. It’s a serious subject, as drinking water with lead in it can lead to a host of health issues, especially in children, infants, and fetuses. One such instance of lead being present in drinking water happened very recently in Bedford, New York. Some residents in the Consolidated Water District, which serves the hamlets of Bedford Hills and Katonah, have lead levels above the Department of Health action level of 15 micrograms of lead per liter of water, according to a release from the town’s Department of Public Works Water Division. More infamously is the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which is still going on. In fact, in all 50 U.S. states, nearly 2000 water systems were found to have excessive levels of lead in them. Lead in drinking water is a common problem that should be addressed immediately. It’s important that you know what you can do to prevent lead in your drinking water, as well as the negative effects it has on your body.
How do I know if there is lead in my drinking water?
For a small fee, you can get your water tested for lead levels. This is the most effective way to tell if your drinking water has lead in it. But you can also find out if your service pipes contain lead. According to the EPA, “homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder.” This means that, depending on the acidity or alkalinity of your water, the lead in your pipes and fixtures will corrode more easily, resulting in lead in your drinking water. Find out if your home is using lead pipes and fixtures. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the subsequent Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) are in place specifically to reduce the chances of lead and copper pipes being used in homes, as well as reducing use of water that more easily corrodes these pipes and fixtures.
What are the effects of drinking water with lead in it?
The effects of consuming lead through your drinking water are very severe, especially in children, infants, and fetuses. This is because a much smaller amount of lead will have an effect on children and infants than on an adult. The effects lead consumption can have on children include “damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.” And this is just from lower levels of exposure. Pregnant women who are consuming lead through their drinking water can have a negative effect on the fetus, as well, such as reduced growth and premature birth.
But even in adults, exposure to lead in the bloodstream can have very serious effects. It can lead to cardiovascular issues such as increased blood pressure, damage to the kidney, and reproduction problems for both men and women.
What do I do if there is lead in my drinking water?
If you suspect there is lead in your drinking water, the first thing you need to do is try to figure out what the exact cause is. If your home uses lead pipes or fixtures, that’s the problem. Getting your pipes replaced is much more difficult than replacing some fixtures, but if you’re a homeowner or a realtor, you may want to seriously consider it. You can also check your city’s most recent water quality report, to find out if the acid or alkaline levels in your city’s water are the cause for corrosion in your pipes.
If there isn’t much else you can do, you can always find another source for your drinking water, or get a water filter or filtration system. Sure, these choices seem inconvenient compared to having water on tap 24/7, but the alternative includes serious health risks. Keep in mind that boiling your water before consumption will not remove lead. The most basic precaution you can take is to let your sink run for a bit before drinking from it, and not using hot or even warm water from your tap. Corrosion happens more easily at higher temperatures, so let your water run as cold as it can get before drinking it.
Lead in water is a very serious incident, so you should know exactly how to check for it, and just how harmful it can be. Being informed is the first step, and one of the most important.
Start by requesting a WATER QUALITY TEST by Westfair Water. You’ll be glad you did.