Lead poisoning is no joke. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan might seem far removed for most of us, but what happened there could happen in any number of other places. And if you live in a home that was fitted with certain types of plumbing materials, you could be at an even higher risk.
Lead poisoning can cause serious health problems in all people, but it can be especially dangerous to children. You can reduce your family’s risk by keeping up on your local water quality, getting your water tested, drinking and cooking with only cold water and using a filter certified to reduce lead. Get more on reducing the risks of lead contamination in your water by checking out the article below. How safe is your drinking water?
Take a Lesson From Flint
For over 50 years, the tap water in Flint, Michigan was just like the tap water in any other U.S. home, according to a Smithsonian Magazine report. Then the city switched its water supply to a slightly more acidic source, while also failing to apply common safeguards used to protect the pipes from the water. This caused the layer of rust that had formed inside the lead pipes to erode into the water supply, turning it toxic.
It may seem like a simple accident, but no, this isn’t a freak event. NPR reports that residents in Newark, New Jersey are battling similar issues. Scientific American reveals that St. Joseph, Missouri; Goat Island, Texas; Warren, Pennsylvania and many other cities across the nation are testing positive for unsafe levels of lead in their drinking water.
Effects of Lead on the Body
The EPA warns that even small amounts of lead can be dangerous. Bathing in contaminated water is safe since the heavy metal can’t be absorbed through the skin but drinking it is another story. The effects of lead consumption aren’t always as profound or obvious in adults, though even they can experience hypertension, kidney issues and reproductive problems.
Lead poisoning can actually be deadly in children, although this is rare. More commonly, lead exposure can cause problems with behavior, difficulty learning, low IQ and other developmental problems. Some children develop anemia, seizures, hearing problems, or don’t grow like they should. Developing fetuses can suffer from stunted growth and premature birth.
Getting Water Tested
Lead can come from the pipes leading into a home or from the plumbing inside. You can find out if your city’s water pipes are leaching lead by checking out your local Consumer Confidence Report, which includes yearly testing on public water supplies. And on the inside...well, if your home was built before 1986, you may also be at risk.
Have your water independently tested to find out. The EPA recommends contacting state or local drinking water authorities for certified laboratories. Water testing can cost anywhere from $20 to $100, depending on location and chosen lab, but that one test could save a family member’s life.
What Else We Can Do
We can further protect ourselves and our families by using only cold tap water for drinking and cooking and running it through a filter that’s certified to reduce lead. Run the tap on cold for at least two minutes when the faucets haven’t been used for several hours. This will reduce potential lead levels by flushing out pockets of water that may have been sitting too long in the pipes.
Don’t be a victim of silently eroding pipes. Know what’s in the water and filter it out or use bottled water if contamination could be a problem. Lead contamination is a real threat, but we can reduce our exposure by taking the right precautions.