Lead Content in Water

Posted: 5th December 2018
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Drawn image showing a drop of water with Pb chemical sign dropping out of a tap

Lead content in water

Ever heard of lead in water, lead poisoning and lead metal effects? Well, this is something you need to be well aware of. Here is the complete information you need to know about the presence of lead in drinking water.

 

What is lead?

Lead is a metal that is found on earth's crust. This bluish-grey metal is present in small amounts on the outer layer of the Earth. It can be seen in nearly all parts of the environment. The main source of lead remains human activities like mining, manufacturing and burning fossil fuels. Because of its wide use, it is found in several materials like batteries, lead-based paint, ammunition and other metal products. Despite being used in so many materials, lead is considered harmful to health. This is the reason why the amount of lead has been reduced in products like paints, pipe solder, gasoline, caulking and ceramic products.


Mendelian Inheritance: Focus on Pb

How does lead get into tap water?

As we said, lead is found in metal products including the pipelines of your household. The main reason behind a mixture of lead into drinking water is the corrosion of the home's plumbing system as well as the erosion of natural deposits. So, when water flows through the pipes, it might also take lead present in the metal with itself. Water and plumbing system give rise to a chemical reaction leading to wearing away of metals. Thus, when metals dissolve in water, it increases the amount of lead in it. Not only this, but the type and amounts of minerals in water also decide the quantity of lead in it. Other factors that affect the lead content are the water's acidity, its temperature, amount of corrosion in pipes and how long the water stays in pipes.

Sanitary pipe covered with rust 

 

What are the normal levels of lead in water?

Environmental Protection Agency takes all the necessary decisions regarding municipal corporations and water supply. It is the in charge of determining the maximum level of contaminants in drinking water so that there is no adverse effect on human health. After tremendous research, it has been found that lead is a toxic metal and is extremely harmful to humans. Thus, EPA has decided that the maximum contaminant level of lead in water should be zero. Yet a small amount of lead can affect human health drastically. It affects young children, fetuses and infants to a great extent and more than it affects the adults.

 

What is lead poisoning? What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?

As discussed earlier, lead can affect human health to a great extent. This toxic metal is a kind of strong poison. Lead poisoning can create dangerous situations. It occurs over a period of months or years when lead builds up in the body. We know that even low lead content in the body can cause considerable harm. So, the seriousness is at another level when it builds up. Children are more exposed to lead poisoning, and it affects their physical and mental development.

You should decide to get a checkup done for lead poisoning if you notice the following symptoms.

 

Symptoms in adults:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headaches
  • Mood disorders
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Abnormal sperm or reduced sperm count
  • Miscarriages



Symptoms in children:

  • Constipation
  • Hearing loss
  • Learning difficulty
  • Weight loss
  • Development delay
  • Vomiting


Infant boy washing hands with tap water

 

How to check lead in water?

When you notice lead poisoning symptoms, the possibilities are that your well water (where from your drinking water comes) contains lead. In such cases, you should contact the state certification officer or certified water testing laboratory nearby. When you receive a lead water sampling kit, sample and post water according to the instructions. In case you are notified on the presence of lead in water, you need to take measure to remove it.


Tubes with water to be tested for lead

 

How to remove lead from water?

 If you presume lead in your drinking water, you need to perform laboratory tests (learn more about the Importance of regular water checkups). And when you're sure of lead content in the water, you need to treat it. Here are the possible ways to do so:

  • Carbon Filtration: Carbon block filters remove lead, but the treatment is not reliable. Lead removing ability can quickly become exhausted, and all your efforts can go in vain.
  • Distillation: This process is effective but requires a lot of time and heat energy. It is recommended not to opt for distillation unless you're left with no other choice.
  • Reverse Osmosis: This is the best reliable and effective way of lead removal. Moreover, it costs relatively less than other methods.

With this, you're full of whatever you need to know about the levels of lead in water. Make sure you're more careful towards your drinking water in future and read more about other 10 signals that something is wrong with your water.

 

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