You've probably heard concerns about lead in your home water. Home water filters always mention that they remove lead from water. You may have even heard that you shouldn't drink water taken from the hot water tap. We thought it would be a good idea to clarify what the risks are, where they come from, and most importantly, if you are at risk of lead in your home water supply.
Why is lead an issue? Lead is absorbed by the human body and accumulates over time. It can cause neurological impairment, particularly in children and can cause high blood pressure or kidney problems in adults.
If your home is connected to city water, rest assured that the water coming to your home has safe and acceptable levels of lead. Lead is rarely found in the source water for water systems, and Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater and other local city water is no exception. The water treatment plants in these cities also constantly test their water for impurities and chemicals, including lead.
Lead is most often introduced into your home's water through corrosion of plumbing materials in your home, such as the solder used to connect pipes, old fixtures and faucets. Newer homes should not have any issues with lead, since federal regulations now prohibit the use of lead-based materials in plumbing systems. However, if your home was built before 1986, there is a possibility your plumbing system contains lead-based materials.
The only way to know for sure if your home water contains lead is to have your water tested. If you are concerned your home water may contain lead, or just want piece of mind, we will be happy to refer you to a certified lab that can test your water. According to the City of Olympia, these tests typically run between $20-40 -- a small price to pay if you are worried about drinking water safety.
If you suspect there is lead in your home water supply, or just want to be extra safe. here are some guidelines for reducing your risk of exposure:
- Only drink and cook with water from the cold water tap. Hot water increases the leeching of lead from contaminated pipes and fixtures.
- Flush your water tap before collecting water for drinking. Run the cold water until the water temperature noticeably changes. This change indicates that you have flushed out the water that's been sitting in your home's pipes and you're getting fresh water from your water source. The city of Olympia recommends flushing for about a minute if the water to that faucet has not been used in the last 6 hours.
- Clean the screens and aerators in faucets frequently to remove lead particles.
- If your home was built more than 20 years ago, you may want to consider replacing original fixtures. M&M Plumbing can help you select and install replacements.
- Consider a water filtration system. M&M Plumbing installs faucet, countertop, under sink and whole house water filtration systems that can remove lead from drinking water.
For newer homes, lead contamination your water should not be a concern. However, people with homes most than 20 years ago should take appropriate precautions to reduce their potential for lead exposure. By using the simple steps listed above, you can keep your family safe from this potentially dangerous element.
- United States Environmental Protection Agency, "Lead in Drinking Water"
- City of Olympia Lead in Drinking Water Fact Sheet (pdf)