Lead in drinking water can have significant negative health impacts on children and adults, especially pregnant adults. Read on to learn more about this heavy metal, how to find out if it’s in your water, and the steps you can take for clean, healthy drinking water.
Lead, or Pb on the periodic table of elements, is a toxic heavy metal that is water-soluble, meaning it dissolves into water. It does not pass easily out of the body and can accumulate in the body over time, sometimes reaching dangerous and damaging levels.
Lead can get into drinking water when pipes and fittings that contain lead begin to corrode—the lead can break away and dissolve into the water system. This can happen when water has a high acidity or low mineral content, which creates conditions that are ideal for metal to break down. Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older towns and homes built before 1986. It can also make its way into homes through the use of lead solder (used to join pipes) and the use of brass fittings, which can leach lead into the water even when plated in chrome. For this reason, it’s a good idea to ask your contractor to check your pipe when you’re remodelling your kitchen, bathroom, or basement plumbing—for instance, if you’re redoing your laundry room.
Some of the conditions that need to be considered when determining if lead can get into drinking water include the chemistry of the water, the temperature of the water, the age of pipes, the amount of time that water rests in the pipes, and whether or not the pipes have been coated with scales or substances to protect the water from lead absorption. You can check the age of your water heater as well, which might offer some clues as to when was the last time your plumbing was checked.
Start with the structure of your home. Your local municipality may have information they can provide you with about whether or not there are lead pipes and/or fittings in the area where you live. You can also talk to them about sampling and testing; many municipal water boards will come and test for free if you are on a central water line. Unfortunately, for those families who source their water from wells, the city will not be able to test this. However, they may be able to point you in the direction of a lab that can help with water sampling from your well. If you’re updating your water heating system, it’s a good time to get your water checked for lead.
There are a few basic safety tips you and your family can take. You can ensure never to consume hot water directly from the tap, as this could be leaching metals from the pipes it passes through. You can also run the water from your primary drinking faucet for about five minutes each morning to flush out the pipes and bring fresh water into the pipes. You cannot remove lead from water by boiling it—this actually concentrates the amount of lead in the water and can be more dangerous.
The best way to address lead in your drinking water is by replacing the pipes or fixtures that are leaching lead into the water in the first place. Not all contractors are experts at dealing which this type of situation, which is why we pre-screen the contractors in our network to make sure they are licensed to deal with water contaminant issues properly.
If you’re concerned about your family’s drinking water, don’t wait to make the upgrades you need to address it. At MyHomeUpgrade.ca, our team of expert advisors can help you explore your options, provide you with a free on-the-spot estimate for your project, then connect you with a recommended contractor in your area to do the work. Call us at 1.833.527.1149 to get started and start renovating your home like an expert, today!
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