How to Remove Lead from Water?
The Flint, Michigan lead in water crisis brought lead to the forefront of conversation. A USA Today investigation solidified that Flint was not an isolated case. The report identified almost 2,000 water systems spanning all 50 states, where 6 million people are supplied with water containing excessive levels of lead.
How Does Lead Get Into Drinking Water?
When the pipes carrying water to homes, schools, and care centers begin to corrode, lead can enter our drinking water. Water that has high acidity or low mineral content is especially corrosive to fixtures and pipes.
Today, most pipes are made of copper, but because many homes built before 1986 still have lead solder connecting their copper pipes, the risk of lead in water is high. The Center for Disease Control estimates children are regularly exposed to high levels of lead in water in 4 million US households.
Even in brand new homes, the pipes carrying water may be bringing lead-polluted water to a household. The EPA reports that hundreds of major cities in the U.S. still have 100% lead piping connecting municipal water plants to homes and businesses.
How to Remove Lead in Water
The CDC suggests two ways to remove lead from drinking water: Reverse Osmosis or Distillation.
- Reverse osmosis is a simple and economical way to protect your household drinking water by filtering out contaminants like lead. Reverse Osmosis can remove 99.1% of lead in water.
- Distillation is a very slow process and requires a lot of energy from a heat source, so it's not the optimal process.
During the reverse osmosis water treatment process, household water pressure pushes water through a series of filters. The membrane in the reverse osmosis system will filter out contaminants, including removing lead from water. Through the RO filtration process, impurities flush away, leaving you with filtered, clean drinking water.
Reverse Osmosis is a highly-effective purification process, has a low production cost (only pennies per gallon), consumes no energy, and is easy to clean and maintain. To learn more about how reverse osmosis works, go to Understanding Reverse Osmosis.
Does Boiling Water Remove Lead?
Boiling your water will not remove lead but can actually increase the concentration of lead in your water. As water evaporates during the boiling process, the ratio of lead to water is greater than when started.
To successfully remove lead from water, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site states, "You may wish to consider water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, distillation, and carbon filters specially designed to remove lead.”
How to Reduce Lead Risk in Drinking Water
1) How long water is in pipes: If a faucet has sitting unused for six or more hours, the CDC recommends that you run water for 1-2 minutes. The longer water has been sitting in pipes, the higher the risk of lead in water. Flushing your pipes can waste water, so you may consider taking a shower to flush out your pipes. (You may ask, "Is it OK to shower in lead water?" Yes, human skin does not absorb lead in water, so shower or clean while flushing the pipes).
2) Temperature of Water: Hot water dissolves and corrodes lead more than cold water does, so when getting water from the tap for drinking or cooking, acquire water from the “COLD” side and heat up the water yourself to reduce the potential for lead contamination. “Do not use hot tap water to make cereals, drinks or mix baby formula. You may draw cold water after flushing the tap and then heat it if needed" (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Can Lead in Water Make You Sick?
According to the EPA, lead poses a serious health threat, especially for pregnant women, infants and young children. For example, lead exposure has been linked to the following issues in children:
- delays in physical development
- behavioral problems
- damage growing brains
And when it comes to the health effects of lead in water, adults are also at risk. There is evidence linking lead exposure to kidney problems, high blood pressure and increased risks of cardiovascular deaths.
How do I Know if There's Lead in My Water?
1. Buy a Test: Because you cannot taste, see or smell lead in water, the only sure way to find out if it's in your water is to test your water. Simple tests are available for ~$10-$20 at your local home improvement store. For a more thorough water test, your local or state drinking water authority can provide you with a list of certified laboratories.
2. Read Municipal Water Report: The EPA requires all community water suppliers prepare and deliver an annual water quality report for their customers by July 1 of each year. To find your local Consumer Confidence Report, visit this EPA website.
To see more information about what contaminants (and what percentage) can be removed with a reverse osmosis system, check out this Contaminant Rejection table.
Which Water Filters Remove Lead?
The following under-counter Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems can reduce lead in water by up to 98%:
50 GPD Reverse Osmosis System
- Quick-Change No-Mess Replacement Filters Under Sink
- Compact Size for Simple Installation Under Sink
- 50 Gallon Per Day Rated Membrane
- 4-Stages of Filtration
- Made in USA
- Free Shipping
100 GPD Reverse Osmosis System
Watts Kwik Change 4-Stage
- Quick-Change No-Mess Replacement Filters
- 100 Gallon Per Day Rated Membrane
- 4-Stages of Filtration
- Designer Faucet
- Space-Saver Storage Tank Only 9” Wide
- FREE Shipping