Lead in Drinking Water
Lead in drinking water is the #1 environmental health threat to children in the U.S. — U.S. EPA
Next to chlorine, lead is the most common contaminant found in tap water. Lead in drinking water usually originates somewhere between the water main in the street and the household faucet, so treatment from a central point is not logical or practical. Most lead in drinking water comes from lead lined pipes, lead solder and brass plumbing fixtures inside your home. All chrome-plated brass and brass plumbing fixtures contain 8% to 15% lead. The EPA estimates that 98% of all homes have pipes, fixtures or solder joints in the household plumbing that can leach some level of lead into the tap water.
It has been determined and recognized by the EPA that there is no safe level for lead in drinking water and that any level poses some degree of adverse health effects, especially to small children.
Even very low levels of lead can cause reduced IQs, learning disabilities and behavioral problems such as hypertension and reduced attention span in children. Often these effects are life long and irreversible.
Washington D.C. is the city that most recently announced that an aging delivery system has caused a lead contamination nightmare that has been poisoning people for many years. Some residents of the nation’s capital have as much as 400 ppb of lead in their tap water, more than 25 times the legal limit! Lead at this level is extremely detrimental to the health of the entire body and even more so to the bodies and minds of children.
One study, in Baltimore, MD, showed that children with high blood-lead levels had a significantly higher rate of problem behaviors than children with low blood levels and concluded with “this study lends support to the belief that undue exposure to lead in childhood years may have a pervasive influence on the prevalence of juvenile delinquency in this country.”
Read more about Water and Raising Small Children.
In adults, lead in drinking water causes high blood pressure and reduces hemoglobin production necessary for oxygen transport and interferes with normal cellular calcium metabolism. Water-borne lead affects every one in a very tragic and permanent way. Lead exposure is cumulative and long lasting. This toxic metal is stored by the body, primarily in teeth and bones.
Essentially, lead has a very damaging effect on the body’s electrical system, the nervous system. It causes the critical life-giving messages, sent from the brain to every cell and organ in our body, to become distorted. This results in the onset of a chain of adverse health effects.
It is estimated by the U.S. EPA that lead in drinking water contributes to 480,000 cases of learning disorders in children and 560,000 cases of hypertension in adults each year in the U.S. alone.
In the first quarter of 1993, the EPA released a first-time report that showed the results of the new “test at the tap” requirements for lead in drinking water. The report documented that in America, 42 states exceeded the legal limits of lead in drinking water and that other states failed to do the required testing. Some areas had lead levels in excess of 450 parts per billion, thirty times the legal limit of 15 ppb. The level the EPA has set as the safe level, or MCLG (maximum contaminant level goal) is -0- ppb.
Essentially, every household with indoor plumbing has some level of lead in the plumbing structure that may represent a health risk.