Why You Should Know How to Remove Lead from Water
If you have heard of lead and lead poisoning, then there’s a good chance you know the unwanted health conditions it causes. Thankfully, lead can be removed from your drinking water and this is the right place for you to learn how to remove lead from water.
In this guide, we will share with you the information related to lead and lead contamination in water as well as other relevant information that you might want to know. Most importantly, this guide will provide you with the knowledge of how to remove lead from water so you can have safe and healthy drinking water for you and your loved ones.
What is Lead?
Before we proceed to the main parts of this article, it is important that you understand what is lead. Lead is a metal that has a bluish-gray look and it occurs naturally in the environment and is usually found in small amounts. Most times, lead occurs as a result of human activities such as mining, manufacturing, or burning of fossil fuels.
You will often find lead in a lead-based paint, batteries, metal pipes, and devices that are meant to be shielded from x-rays. Lead is typically removed from gasoline, paints as well as ceramics products due to health concerns. This is also why the amount of lead in pipe solder has reduced in recent years. However, the regulations for the amount of lead in household water is still a problem encountered by most homes.
Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) implemented changes to the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Lead and Copper Rule to help regulate the amount of lead in tap water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also suggested that the maximum contaminant level for lead in drinking water should be zero.
How Lead Gets Into Drinking Water
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead doesn’t usually occur in water naturally and it normally gets into the water through a water supply system. This is why lead pipes are considered the main contributor to high levels of lead in tap water.
However, lead pipes are still produced because they have high resistance to leaks and are commonly used as a major component for plumbing and pipe making. Many cities are still using lead pipes to supply water to homes, and also in some home plumbing.
Typically, there is a protective layer of metal oxides covering the lead for the prevention of direct contact between the lead and water. In order to prevent corrosion of this layer of metal oxides, intense care must be provided. If the prevention of the corrosion of lead water supply pipes has failed, it can potentially result in a high amount of lead in your drinking water.
You should take note that the things that contribute to the corrosion of metal pipes are often the water temperature and chemistry. Hot water is generally more corrosive as compared to cold water, while soft water is more corrosive than hard water.
Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), water with high acidity (low pH) is also another source of household pipe corrosion. In fact, this is another way that lead gets into the water in the home, which is through the corrosion of household plumbing systems.
Most times, lead-based solder is used as a way to join household pipes and if the pipe is old and gone through chemical corrosion, you will be drinking lead-contaminated water. If there is a powerful vibration when you use your faucets, it can cause lead to enter the water as well.
Health Problems Associated with Lead in Drinking Water
Lead poisoning is not something that you want to mess with because it causes a number of serious health issues, both long term, and short term. Not only is drinking water with lead dangerous for children, but it is also detrimental to an adult’s health.
Some of the health effects of drinking water with lead include abdominal pains, joint and muscle pains, fatigue, high blood pressure, loss of appetite, and anemia. Moreover, you might also experience kidney dysfunction, headaches, memory loss, sleep problems, as well as reproductive problems.
If children drink lead-contaminated water, it can cause certain developmental problems and intellectual disabilities, such as brain and nervous system damage, learning disabilities, behavioral problems like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), hearing problems, low IQ, and slowed growth.
Identifying Lead in Your Tap Water
Identifying lead in water might not be an easy task because lead contamination has no distinct taste or smell, unlike other harmful contaminants such as sulfur or chlorine. Since corrosion causes lead to dissolving in your water, it will not be visible in the water that comes out from the faucet. Thankfully, there are ways now to identify the lead source and check if it’s in your water system.
The first thing that you should pay attention to when checking for lead contamination is the age of your water pipe system. Even if the old lead pipes have been switched to a newer system, your water may still be contaminated due to lead soldering and brass or chrome-plated brass faucets.
While brass is only an alloy that is mostly made of copper and zinc, lead may still be present as a main element used in brass. However, this is heavily dependent on the age of these materials.
Next, if the building you’re staying in was built before 1978, there is a high change that lead-based paints were used. As such, it increases the likelihood of lead exposure. Lead accumulates in a person’s body overy time and contamination from various sources can be detrimental to our health, even with minimal contact or exposure.
Finally, the best way to confirm if you have the risk of lead exposure in drinking water or not is to have your water tested. You may also contact your municipal water supply to request for a water test. While the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a maximum contaminant level of lead in drinking water as 15 micrograms per liter (µg/L), you should still take action immediately if any lead is found in your water.
How To Reduce Lead Exposure in Water and the Risk of Lead Contamination
To reduce the chances of drinking lead-contaminated water, we would recommend you to run a faucet for a few minutes first before drinking the water or cooking with it. The more time water remains stationary in pipes, the more lead will be present.
In addition, you can reduce the risk of being exposed to too much lead if you turn the tap to cold water first before you drink or use it. This is because hot water is more prone to release more lead from the pipes. In contrast to what many people believe, boiling water doesn’t help to remove lead from water because the boiling process only increases the lead concentration in your water.
Last but not least, you can reduce the risk of drinking water with lead by relying on different water treatment systems. Some of the most common water treatment systems today are reverse osmosis and distillation. Keep reading to find out how these water treatment methods are able to remove lead.
Guide For Lead Removal from Drinking Water
Here comes the most important part of this guide and that is learning how to remove lead from your drinking water. The two methods that are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to remove lead are reverse osmosis and distillation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends the use of carbon filters specially designed as another water treatment technique.
A reverse osmosis system works as the name suggests. Reverse osmosis systems reverse the water flow in a natural process of osmosis, allowing the water to pass through a semipermeable membrane. The water will then change from a highly concentrated solution to a more diluted one.
The tiny pore size of reverse osmosis systems is also great for removing chemical contaminants, like lead, and also bacteria and viruses which are commonly found in tap water. You should consider using a reverse osmosis system if you want a thorough water filtration system.
Another method of treating water is using distillation. This process involves heating your drinking water to a boiling point and gathering the condensation, leaving unwanted contaminants behind.
Distillation is also one of the treatment methods recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for removing lead, chromium, and other chemical contaminants from your water. Much like reverse osmosis, this method is also great for removing bacteria and viruses.
Activated Carbon Filters
Other than the two ways mentioned above, activated carbon water filters are also great choices for removing unwanted toxins and contaminants through adsorption. The carbon in this water filter adsorbs organic molecules and keeps inside the carbon pores, which allows clean water to pass through.
Even though activated carbon water filters are useful for removing lead, it might be quite troublesome because the surface of this type of drinking water filter becomes saturated after using it for quite some time. As a result, the activated carbon water filters need to be replaced on a regular basis to maintain their effectiveness.
With the presence of lead in your drinking water, you and your loved ones will be susceptible to the negative effects of lead poisoning. To ensure the health and safety of the people in your home, it is essential to learn to remove lead from water, and after going through our guide, we believe you have the capacity to do so.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also suggested how lead gets into your drinking water and while it’s hard to remove lead from the water supply, it’s actually quite simple to remove it from your drinking water or tap water. As mentioned above, you can rely on reverse osmosis, distillation, or carbon filtration for removing lead from water.
Can I remove lead if I boil my water?
No. Hot water will increase lead concentration and lead removal is not possible if you boil your water. However, it would be a different case if the water is going through distillation.
Is it possible to find lead in private wells?
Yes. There is a potential to find lead in private wells, especially the older ones as most of them have a lead seal that could cause lead to get into your water.
Can I shower with water containing lead?
Yes. It is safe to shower with water that has lead because the human skin doesn’t absorb lead from water, so there won’t be any problems for kids, pregnant women, and adults bathing in water lead-contaminated water. However, you should be aware that you might accidentally ingest a small amount of lead while you’re showering.
What are some tips for me to lower lead intake?
If you do not wish to go through the lead removal process or purchase any water system for lead removal, then you can follow these few tips to reduce the chances of drinking water that contains lead:
- Avoid getting hot water directly from the tap for cooking, or other purposes because hot water will corrode the pipes easier and cause lead to get into your water. Instead, use the cold water from the tap and heat it up to reduce the chances of lead contamination.
- Flush the pipes by letting the water run out for some time before using it, especially if the water from that tap hasn’t been used for very long.
Ideally, we would recommend you to use water treatment systems if you want to have clean drinking water at all times. Treated water is also free of other harmful contaminants, making it safer for you and your loved ones to consume.