Since the health effects of lead in drinking water have made the nationwide news, many residents are worried about being exposed to lead via the tap water in their home. If you live in an older home or apartment building, water pipes are more likely to be coated in lead, which could lead to health problems or lead poisoning. The good news is, since so many people are now aware of the potential risks of lead in the water system, residents act quickly to get their home tested for lead.
The greatest danger from exposure to lead is lead poisoning. Signs of lead poisoning include:
- Joint aches and pains
- Damage to the nervous system
- Stunted growth and development in children and babies
- Trouble in pregnancy or getting pregnant
- Hearing and speech problems
Many people are exposed to lead in older water pipes, paint chips, soil, older toys and dust tainted with lead. People who live in older homes or work in older buildings (pre-1970s) are usually at higher risk of lead exposure.
Over 1 million people worldwide died of lead poisoning in 2017, according to the World Health Organization. Young children are most likely to suffer from lead poisoning, according to WHO.
Lead exposure in very small doses is usually not lethal. However, there has been no safe level of lead exposure discovered for small children and babies. If you have young children in your household, you will want to remove any trace of lead right away.
If you believe that you may have lead poisoning, get your blood tested right away.
Getting Rid of Lead
If you believe that your water supply may be tainted with lead, you may have to send a sample to the local laboratory. Michigan’s government does offer testing to see if water is contaminated with lead. Because most lead sources are municipal water pipes, your local government will have to handle removing the contaminated pipes.
Here are some ways to reduce lead intake through water:
- Use only cold water. Hot water is more likely to contain lead.
- Flush your pipes by running water for a minute or two or taking a shower.
- Invest in a reverse-osmosis system to filter water.
- Clean your faucet’s screen (or aerator) to reduce buildup of sediment, debris and lead particles.
- Avoid drinking, cooking or brushing your teeth with water you suspect might have lead in it. Bathing and showering in possibly lead-contaminated water shows no health risks.
Emergency restoration companies may be able to provide some guidance for you in tackling lead-contaminated water. Try reaching out to local emergency restoration providers, such as DriForce, Belfor and PuroClean.