Thursday, May 17, 2012

Testing Water for Lead, and What’s Safe

We all are at risk to lead in our drinking water. Here is how you can prevent lead poisioning.

Whether your home is brand new or old, lead in your drinking water is a concern for us all. Lead does not contaminate water from the tap source or treatment plant; the lead comes from the pipes that carry the water, particularly the pipes that carry it into your home. In older homes, the pipes are sometimes made from lead or have corrosion. Even brass pipes are susceptible to lead; sometimes they are soldered together with lead. A plumbing professional can tell you if your pipes and plumbing are a lead risk.

When toxic amounts of lead are in drinking water, it is the children and babies who pay the highest price. No matter what level of lead children come into contact with, their mental development can be affected. Lead harms children in numerous ways. Lead affects their ability to learn, to walk, and even their hearing. Though your child may not act sick here are some signs of lead poisoning: constipation, headaches, stomach aches with or without vomiting, metallic taste in mouth, and dizziness.

There are some precautions that you can take to ensure your tap water is safe. Your local newspaper is a definite source of you city’s water testing. Often, when water testing is completed, the results are posted in the local newspaper. Or you can contact your city’s water provider. Of course, you need to test your own water at home. You can and probably will have different lead levels than the town water supplier. A home lead water test can range from $20 up to $100. It depends of the extent of testing. Other tips to reduce lead in your water are to flush your pipes. The longer water sets in pipes, it has a greater chance of being contaminated. If your faucet has not been run in six or more hours, flush it by letting the water run until it comes out the very coldest. Only use cold water for cooking and mixing baby formula or juice. As an added precaution, you can use bottled water for making your infant’s formula. Also, you can install a water filtration system. Read the label and make sure that lead is specifically filtered out of the water.

You can call the EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) Safe Drinking water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791. Or contact your county or state health department for additional information on your community’s drinking water safety.

Regardless of your community’s test results, you must do your own test. Lead test kits are available online and in stores. The tests are simple and contain easy to follow instructions. A few minutes can save a small child or a pregnant woman and her unborn child. 

Remember that even small amounts of lead can be harmful to everyone: young or old. If you suspect that your family has been exposed to lead poisoning; ask your physician to perform a blood test to check your lead levels. This is an excellent precaution and you must take this step if your water tests for high lead levels in your home.

If you would rather not rely on your own testing; hire a lead professional. This way, if lead is detected your lead contractor can help you assess the situation. He or she can help you decide what your next step should be—for repairs to remove the lead or corroded plumbing.
No one is going to force you to test lead levels in your home’s drinking water. It is not mandatory like the city and state’s testing. Do not wait until a member of your family is affected by lead poisoning, the damage will have been done. Lead poisoning is preventable—if you want it to be.


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