Lead in Drinking Water
While the 1996
revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act significantly changed the lead
requirements for materials used in residential plumbing, older fixtures
and lead water lines are still in service in many communities, and they
can potentially contribute lead into a home’s drinking water supply.
Individuals living in older homes should check to see if a lead service
line connects the home to the public water system. The local water
department can usually inspect the line coming into the home or check
their records to confirm if the home is connected to the water system
by a lead service line. In addition to lead service lines, faucets and
lead-based solder can also contribute small amounts of lead into
drinking water, especially if produced and installed before 1998.
result, some individuals who don't have lead service lines can still
have unsafe levels of lead in their drinking water. Water testing can
help determine if a home’s lead content is below the federal limit of
0.015 mg/L. If it exceeds this level, options include having the lead
service line replaced, using a home water treatment product certified
for lead reduction, or using certified bottled water.
While replacement of the lead service line may be
desirable, it isn't always possible. Depending upon the lead levels
being detected, home water treatment devices may be a practical option.
There are filters, reverse osmosis units and distillers certified for
lead reduction. Certification means a sample of a system was
independently tested to verify it could reduce 0.150 mg/L to 0.010 mg/L
Since a low pH in private wells can also cause lead leaching,
an acid neutralizing system may be needed to correct the situation.
These systems add a chemical to the water, such as soda ash or lime, to
boost the pH until it is raised above 7.0.
These systems can also help
to reduce copper leaching that is attributable to low pH. Most water
treatment systems have replaceable components, so be sure to follow the
manufacturer's maintenance instructions for any water treatment system.
For filters, this means changing the filter at the recommended
intervals, usually determined in gallons.
For reverse osmosis units,
this means monitoring the total dissolved solids (TDS) content of the
water being produced by the system to ensure the membrane continues to
By proper selection, use and maintenance, home water
treatment systems can help
consumers reduce contaminants such as lead
from their incoming drinking water supply.
789 N. Dixboro Road,
P.O. Box 130140,
Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0140
Be sure to test the lead
levels in your drinking water, especially if you live in an older home.
Drinking Water Fact Kit Lead in Drinking Water