For the most part, the old home improvement saying “It if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” is perfectly good advice. If something is working well, it doesn’t need to be repaired. Of course, some things work for so long that we realize the initial construction was a bad idea, even if was very efficient. This is exactly the reason there are still aging lead pipes in most of the older plumbing systems. Sometimes these pipes were laid by the city and are still part of the municipal water systems, other times ancient lead pipes are hiding in the walls of old homes and apartment buildings, or they might be buried in “last mile” water delivery from the neighborhood main line to your home.
The problem is, of course, that while lead pipes do make a reliable, watertight seal, they also steadily release harmful heavy metal particles into home water supplies, potentially poisoning one or many families.
Signs of Lead Poisoning
Lead poisoning is worse than most heavy metals with a notorious reputation for brain damage as well as serious health concerns. Lead isn’t good for anyone but it is especially harmful to children, able to cause developmental delay and illness for the rest of their lives. Because lead doesn’t have a distinctive taste, often the first signs of contamination are in the health of you, your family, or your neighbors.
- Developmental delay
- Learning difficulties
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Sluggishness and fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Hearing loss
- Eating things that aren’t food
Testing for Lead Poisoning
If you live in an old neighborhood, older, building, or even if you just want to be sure that your family isn’t being exposed to lead poisoning, it’s best to get your water tested. For a baseline, you can ask your water supplier for a copy of their Consumer Confidence Report which will contain a record of all the most recently tested levels of things other than pure H2O in your water. However, this is only a baseline because there are miles of pipes between you and the nearest treatment center that could be adding their own contributions.
Using a Home Test Kit
To test for lead in your home tap water, start by picking up a home testing kit from your local home improvement store. Follow the instructions carefully, making sure the water you collect is “first-draw” which means that it’s the very first water to come out of the tap after sitting overnight. If the pipes in or near your home contain lead, it will have increased, first thing in the morning is when it will contain the most toxins.
Package the sample and send it to a laboratory for analysis, preferably to a state-certified lab according to the kit’s instructions. In a few days or weeks based on lab policies, you should have the results back and will be able to determine the concentration of lead in your water, if any.
If You Detect Lead
If the test identifies lead in your tap water, the best solution is to replace the offending pipe but unless you own your home and pull from a local well on the property, this may not be possible. The good news is that you can keep using your tap water, all you need is a home filtration system. Connected between your home and water source, a filtration system can remove the harmful lead from your tap water, making sure that you and your family are safe from the harmful side effects without having to dig up half the city hunting for a lead-containing pipe. For more information about lead in the water or to find the right home filtration system for your residence, contact us today!