The issue of lead contamination in water has garnered increasing attention in recent years, raising concerns among parents worldwide. Lead, a toxic heavy metal, poses a significant threat to human health, particularly affecting children who are more susceptible to its harmful effects. As parents, it's important to comprehend the dangers associated with lead exposure and take proactive measures to protect our families. This brief guide explains how lead gets in our drinking water, the effect it has on children, how to remove lead from drinking water, and answers some frequently asked questions.

How Lead Enters Drinking Water

Lead can infiltrate drinking water through corroded pipes, plumbing fixtures, and solder used in older homes. As water flows through these outdated systems, it picks up lead particles, contaminating the water supply and posing a considerable risk to those who consume it. In 2023, the EPA reported that more than nine million lead pipes supplying drinking water throughout the US.

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Lead in tap water

Impact on Children

Children, with their rapidly growing bodies, absorb lead more efficiently, making them particularly vulnerable to its effects. According to the EPA, even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:

  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Anemia

In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.

What does lead look like in water

Lead, when present in water, is often invisible to the naked eye. Unlike visible contaminants such as sediment or particles, lead remains undetectable without specialized testing equipment. Conducting regular water lead tests is important to identifying potential contamination. Investing in a reliable water lead test kit can provide peace of mind and help ensure the safety of your household's water supply.

family drinking water and giving thumbs up sign

So what should a parent do?

Test your Water. Using a water lead test kit is a simple and convenient way to determine if your tap water contains elevated levels of lead. These kits are readily available online or at hardware stores and provide accurate results within minutes, allowing you to take appropriate action to address any contamination issues.

  • Filter Your Water. 
    • Faucet-mounted filters are convenient and easy to install. These filters attach directly to your kitchen faucet and provide on-the-spot filtration. Ensure the selected faucet-mounted filter is certified to remove lead, and follow the manufacturer's guidelines for installation and maintenance.
    • Use a water filter bottle. The water you drink from your home tap is likely from the same water system that you drink at the gym or ork and kids drink while at school. To protect your family from lead no matter where they are, the portable filtration of water filter bottles may make sense.  A water filter bottle designed for lead removal employs advanced filtration technology to effectively eliminate lead from your drinking water. The Water-to-Go filter does an excellent job of removing lead from drinking water anywhere. It also filters other common tap water contaminants including PFAS, arsenic, fluoride, and chlorine.
  • Replace Plumbing. If your home has lead pipes or plumbing fixtures, consider replacing them with lead-free alternatives. Consult with a professional plumber to assess the extent of lead-containing materials in your plumbing system and discuss replacement options. Of course, this is an expensive project, so filtering your water may be a more practical solution. 
  • Regularly Flush Pipes. Run cold water for a few minutes before using it for cooking or drinking. This helps flush out water that may have been sitting in the pipes and may contain higher concentrations of lead.
  • Use Cold Water for Cooking and Drinking. Use cold water for cooking and drinking since hot water is more likely to leach lead from pipes. This is particularly important when preparing baby formula or food for infants. 

Remember, the effectiveness of these methods may vary based on the specific conditions of your water supply and plumbing. It's advisable to consult with a water treatment professional or plumber to determine the most appropriate solution for your household. Regular maintenance and adherence to manufacturer guidelines are essential to ensure the continued effectiveness of any water treatment system.

 

Girl drinking from tap

Frequently Asked Questions

How does lead get into drinking water?

Lead can enter drinking water through corroded pipes, plumbing fixtures, and solder used in older homes. As water flows through these outdated systems, it can pick up lead particles, contaminating the water supply.

What are the risks to human health?

The risks of lead exposure are numerous and severe, especially for children. Lead poisoning can cause irreversible damage to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, and other vital organs. It can lead to developmental delays, learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and a host of other health problems.

What happens if lead is in drinking water?

When lead is present in drinking water, it can accumulate in the body over time, causing a range of health problems. Children are particularly vulnerable, as even low levels of lead exposure can have serious and long-lasting effects on their physical and cognitive development.

How do you remove lead from water?

To remove lead from water, using a quality water filter specifically designed for lead removal is essential. These filters typically utilize activated carbon or reverse osmosis technology to effectively trap and remove lead particles from the water.

Why remove lead from drinking water?

Removing lead from drinking water is important for safeguarding our health and well-being, especially for children and pregnant women. By investing in reliable water filtration systems, we can mitigate the risk of lead exposure and protect our families from its harmful effects.

Can lead be tasted in water?

Lead itself does not impart a taste or odor to water, making it virtually undetectable without proper testing. This silent nature of lead contamination underscores the importance of regular water testing and filtration to ensure the safety of our drinking water.

Does boiling remove lead from water?

Boiling water, unfortunately, does not effectively remove lead. While boiling can kill bacteria and parasites, it does not eliminate lead contaminants. In fact, boiling can have the opposite effect by concentrating lead levels if the water evaporates during the process. 

Conclusion

Protecting children from lead in drinking water should be a top priority for every family and community. Lead exposure can have devastating consequences for developing minds and bodies, even at low levels. We must take collective action to raise awareness of this danger and implement effective solutions. By understanding the risks and taking proactive measures like filtering our water, we can safeguard the health and well-being of our children and future generations. Let's advocate for robust solutions to combat lead contamination in water, ensuring clean, safe water for all. Remember, every action we take to address this issue contributes to a healthier future for our children.

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Readers of this blog get 10% off all water-to-Go water filter bottles.  Use coupon code "LEAD" at checkout.

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Sources:

For more information:

  • World Health Organization (WHO) - The WHO provides comprehensive information on the health effects of lead exposure, including its impact on children's health and the importance of safe drinking water. Their publications and reports offer valuable insights into global efforts to address lead contamination and protect public health.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) - The AAP is a trusted source of information for parents and healthcare professionals, offering guidance on a wide range of child health issues, including lead exposure. Their resources outline the risks of lead poisoning, strategies for prevention, and recommendations for screening and treatment, making it
Written by Lalaine Altar