Dangers Of Lead Contamination
There is no safe level of lead in drinking water. However, next to chlorine, it is the most common tap water contaminant. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 90% of all homes have household plumbing that passes some level of lead into tap water. If you live in a home that was built before 1986, get water directly from the pipe, chances are it’ll contain lead. Because lead cannot be detected by smell, taste or with the human eye you’ll need to get a test kit.
In Washington, some households have been tested for 440 parts per billion (ppb) of lead in their tap water, 25X the legal limit. Initial federal standards limited lead levels in water 50 ppb. However, new data on the significant health hazards of lead contamination has resulted in the limit lowered to 15 ppb. It is advised, especially with small children in the household, to reduce lead levels as much as possible.
Symptoms and effects of lead poisoning
Lead poisoning is especially dangerous because there may be no unique signs to look for. Early symptoms to lead exposure include:
- persistent fatigue
- loss of appetite
- stomach discomfort
- reduced attention span
In adults, lead poisoning can cause:
- poor muscle coordination
- nerve damage
- increased blood pressure
- hearing and vision impairment
- reduced sperm count
- retarded fetal development (even at low levels)
Lead poisoning in children
In children (especially 0-7 years of age), lead poisoning is especially dangerous. Children absorb an increased percentage of ingested lead in the gastrointestinal tract than adults. Because they are still in a stage of neurological and developmental growth, they are more vulnerable to the damage lead has on their nerves and nervous system. It is also common for children to be deficient in iron and calcium, which increases lead absorption in their bodies, especially bones and teeth.
Lead poisoning in children can cause:
- brain damage
- mental retardation
- behavioral problems
- liver and kidney damage
- hearing loss
- stunted mental and physical development
- in extreme cases, death
Other major sources of lead exposure are:
- ambient air
- soil (children are prone to play in the dirt)
- food (contaminated by lead in air or container)
However, it is estimated 10-20% of lead absorption in young children comes from drinking water.
Testing for lead contamination Lead is not often thought about in our homes, but lead exposure poses very real and serious health effects. Test your home for lead and take children to the doctor to be tested at an early age. The current levels of concern in children is easily overlooked by society.
Best Water Filter For Lead Removal Solution
Treatment from a central point will not remove lead from your drinking water because most lead is picked up in the lead pipes, lead solder, and brass plumbing inside your home. A point-of-use filter (such as a counter-top or under sink water filter) is an easy and essential solution to prevent the health risks involved with lead contamination in your home. Another option is a faucet filter.
We have looked at the health risks, such as Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Chlorine? and also bacteria removal. Don’t take a gamble on your health. Test your water today, invest in a system and drink clean, healthy water.