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By: Michael Colvin on April 8th, 2021

Is There Lead in My Tap Water?

The possibility of lead in your tap water is a serious and unsettling issue. In this post, we will understand more about the growing problem of lead in our tap water. Some of the topics discussed will be:

  • What is lead?
  • How does lead get into our drinking water?
  • Is there a safe level of lead in drinking water?
  • Who does lead affect?
  • What can you do to prevent lead in your water?
  • What are the essential steps we can take to reduce lead in drinking water?

Lead is a cumulative toxicant that can affect our bodies’ various parts and is harmful to younger children. Once in your body, where can lead go? Lead can be distributed to the brain, liver, kidney, and bones. Storage of lead can be found in your teeth and bones stored in this area over time.

How does lead get into our drinking water?

Drinking water can include lead when the plumbing materials corrode and breakdown into our water systems. Areas with high acidity or low mineral content have water lines making it easier for the corrosion process in these pipes.

Lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures are the most common sources of lead in drinking water. Lead service lines are in the homes that connect to the water main that have lead pipes. These types of homes have the most significant source of lead in the drinking water.

Homes built before 1986 generally had pipes made out of lead. Even if you have a home with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets, you are still at risk of having lead in your water.

Pop Quiz: What is corrosion? It is the process of dissolving or wearing away metal objects due to a chemical reaction between your plumbing and water.

What factors contribute lead entering our water?

Some questions you must ask yourself when determining the possibility of having lead present in your water include the following:

  • Do the pipes have protective scales or coating inside the plumbing materials?
  • How long has the water stayed in the pipes?
  • How much water is in these pipes?
  • What is the temperature of the water?
  • How much lead has been in contact with the water through the pipes?
  • What is the water’s chemistry (acidity and alkalinity) and the different types and amounts of minerals in the water?


Is there a Safe Level of Lead in Drinking Water?

United States Protection Agency (EPA) is required by the Safe Drinking Water act to understand and determine the amount and the level of contaminants in drinking water with zero adverse health effects that are likely to occur with a reasonable margin of safety.

Maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) are non-enforceable health goals that are based solely on the possibility of a health risk. Lead is so critical for their studies that the EP has set a ZERO maximum contaminant level goal in our drinking water. Why? Because lead is persistent and can bioaccumulate in our bodies over time.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s in YOUR city’s water, we recommend visiting the EWG’s Tap Water Database and entering your ZIP code to learn more about what’s in your local water.

Who does Lead Affect?

Unborn babies, infants, and young children are the most vulnerable groups when it comes to lead poisoning. Adults might have little effect from a dose of lead, but lead can significantly affect children.

Why children? Their low levels of exposure have been linked to having damage in the central and peripheral nervous system. It can also have a substantial effect to cause learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells.  

Twenty percent or more of a person’s total exposure to lead can be from drinking water per the EPA. Infants can receive 40-60% of their exposure to lead from drinking water from consuming a mixed formula.

What can You do to Prevent Lead in Your Water?

  • Learn about the water coming into your home
    • Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) can show annual quality reports in your community per the EPA. How can you get this report? Contact your water utility personal.
    • Public Notification Rule has a requirement to alert you if there is a problem in your drinking water
    • Check your ZIP code in the EWG’s Tap Water Database
  • Testing can be conducted for your water
    • Due to lead’s size, you may not see, taste or smell it in your water. The only way to find out is to test for lead in your water. Your state or local drinking water directors can give you a list of certified laboratories to ensure your drinking water safety.
    • Testing can run between $20 – $100, and there are different ways they can test for lead in your drinking water.

What are the Essential Steps We can take to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water?

There are many steps you can take to reduce lead in drinking water. Below are a few recommended steps and various options at your disposal should your water be potentially compromised by lead and other contaminants:

  • Have your water tested
  • Uncover if you have a lead service line
  • Before you drink, run your water
  • Find out if there has been construction in your community
  • Use cold water for drinking, cooking, and making baby formula
  • Clean your aerator
  • Get a filtration system and properly maintain it
  • Have a backup supply of water, such as 3- or 5-gallon jugs through a bottled water delivery service

Our friendly team of experts here at Exell are standing by and ready to help you determine your next steps to safe, clean drinking water. 

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