How to Remove Lead from Water?
The Flint water crisis has brought LEAD to the forefront of conversation. What at first appeared to be an isolated incident of high lead levels in water, has now become clear that Flint was not an isolated case.
“USA Today reports that they have: Identified almost 2,000 additional water systems spanning all 50 states where testing has shown excessive levels of lead contamination over the past four years. The water systems, which reported lead levels exceeding Environmental Protection Agency standards, collectively supply water to 6 million people.”
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 most homes built before 1986 still have lead solder connecting their copper pipes, the risk of lead in drinking water is high. The Center for Disease Control estimates there are 4 million households in the U.S. where children being exposed to high levels of lead.
And even if a home is brand new, the pipes carrying water may be bring lead-contaminated 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.
The lead pipe issue and aging infrastructure of our municipal water systems will take time and money to remedy. It’s estimated that water suppliers need to spend more than 250 Billion dollars to repair this problem--and this will not happen overnight.
How Serious is Lead in the Water?
Lead poses a serious health threat, especially for pregnant women, infants and young children. Lead exposure has been linked to the following issues in children:
- delays in physical development
- reduced IQs
- attention disorders
- behavioral problems
- damage of growing brains
Adults are also at risk. There is evidence linking lead exposure to kidney problems, high blood pressure and increased risks of cardiovascular deaths.
Tips for Reducing Lead Intake:
First off, when getting water from the tap for cooking pasta, making a cup of tea or mixing formula for a baby bottle, do not pull warm water from the “HOT” water side of the faucet. Hot water is more likely to contain higher levels of lead since water temperature plays a role in how corrosive the water can be.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) website states: “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. You may also wish to consider water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, distillation, and carbon filters specially designed to remove lead.”
So always acquire water from the “COLD” side and heat up the water yourself to reduce the potential for lead contamination.
Secondly, if you’ve been out of town or even gone to work all day, it’s a good idea to “flush” your pipes by running water for a minute or so. The longer water has been sitting in pipes, the more lead it may contain. Flushing for a couple of minutes can waste a lot of water, so you may consider taking a shower to flush out your pipes. Human skin does not absorb lead in water, so shower or clean while flushing the pipes.
How Do I Find Out If There’s Lead in My Water?
To learn exactly what’s in your water, contact your local water supplier to receive a copy of the latest water quality report.
The EPA requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual water quality report called a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) for their customers by July 1 of each year.
To find your local Consumer Confidence Report, visit this EPA website.
How Can I Remove Lead from My Drinking Water?
Lead poses a serious health threat, especially for pregnant women, infants and young children and has been linked to a number of health issues in children.
The CDCP suggests three ways to remove lead from drinking water:
- Carbon Filtration
- Reverse Osmosis
- Distillation is a very slow process and requires a lot of energy from a heat source. Thus, it is not the optimal process for lead removal.
- Some carbon block filters are designed to remove some lead, but the lead-removing ability can quickly become exhausted --thus inhibiting their lead removal capabilities. For example, a carbon filter capable of filtering 10,000 gallons of water might only be effective at reducing lead for the first 2,000 gallons. Thus, carbon filters with lead reduction abilities may not always be a reliable treatment method.
- Reverse osmosis is widely considered to be the BEST WAY to protect your household and reduce or remove lead from drinking water.
During the reverse osmosis water treatment process, water is pushed (by household water pressure) through a series of filters. The membrane in the reverse osmosis system will filter out the lead and many other contaminants, only allowing water to pass through. The impurities are flushed away, leaving you with filtered, clean, delicious 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.
To see more information about what contaminants (and what percentage) can be removed with reverse osmosis, check out this Contaminant Rejection table.
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