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  • eric ritter

Lets Talk About Water: Finding out will only cost a penny.

You can test for lead in your water by testing your water source.

With all the news and studies coming out, it’s clear that this is a topic we can’t ignore. So, here’s a friendly and approachable guide to help you understand the situation and what you can do about it.

Understanding and Testing Your Water

  • What the Government says: When testing your water for lead, specificity is key. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that drinking water should have less than 1 part per billion (ppb) of lead for children's safety. A study by the Environmental Defense Fund highlights the importance of aiming for the lowest possible levels of lead in drinking water (Environmental Defense Fund).

  • Chemical Tests Cannot Test Water: the above concentration limit is Very Low, unfortunately there is no way to test this yourself right now. Water Tests like these on Amazon are incredibly misleading.

There are no color changing method that is suitable to test for lead concentrations at the parts per billion range. - but how would anyone know-

this is the big issue with home water testing, typically after spending 30 dollars on something people will be satisfied.

ironically you can test for lead with a penny.

Scrape the pipe, lead is soft so the penny will deform the surface of the pipe.

if the pipe is metal and very hard its not lead, if its copper colored, its also not lead

^ this is a galvanized steel pipe^

^as the copper color suggests this is a copper pipe^

^the soft and shiny streaks left by your scraping tool

indicate a lead pipe. If you have a lead pipe its a good idea to get a filter

, water quality can change over time so its a great idea to be proactive.

You can also spray your pipes with FLUORO-SPEC or similar to identify lead.

In the coming weeks I will receive an atomic adsorption spectrometer in the mail, i will be able at that point to test water, food and the leach ability/ accessibility of lead in products.

  • Lab Testing: If you opt to collect some water to send away here's how.

  • Sample Collection: To catch the highest potential lead levels, collect your water sample first thing in the morning or after it has been sitting in the pipes for several hours. This method is supported by research on lead accumulation in stagnant water pipes (National Library of Medicine). By doing this you can guarantee your getting the worst case scenario of the amount of lead in the water.

  • Watch Your Plumbing: Even new plumbing fixtures can contribute to lead levels in your water due to the presence of lead in brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures. The Safe Drinking Water Act amendments of 2014 reduced the maximum allowable lead content. (EPA Safe Drinking Water Act).

  • Even if you get a lead pipe removed from your home it may be a good idea to use a NSF certified filter since lead would have inundated the scale in the pipes in the home and may continue to contaminate the water if it were ever an issue to begin with.

  • Using Proper Filtration: If you're concerned about lead in your tap water, installing a certified filter can provide peace of mind. Filters that meet NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction are effective at removing lead from drinking water (NSF Certified Filters).

  • Realistically you are probably only at risk from lead contaminated water if you have a water service line made of lead AND your water service provider isn't conditioning the water properly.

Solutions VS Prevention

  • Lead Exposure Testing for Children: In areas known for lead issues, the CDC recommends getting blood lead level tests for children at ages 1 and 2. This is currently the best method the government uses to assess who is getting exposed and its a good way to allocate resources to people who need it. (CDC Lead Testing).

But we all know my position on this- test with kits not kids- if you have advanced knowledge of the threat I doubt your child would ever be exposed.

  • Addressing Lead Pipes: With many cities, including Chicago, working to replace old lead pipes, homeowners should inquire about the material of their service lines. The EPA’s initiative to remove lead pipes within 10 years underscores the urgency of this issue (EPA Lead Pipe Replacement).

In Conclusion

Lead in water is a real thing, if you have a lead service line this is a good indicator that its POSSIBLE your water has higher than desirable levels of lead, the best course of action is always proactive prevention. Unfortunately the EPA and local governments aren't very good at motivating people to be proactive, but i KNOW people want to protect their family's and themselves. Thanks for reading- when it comes to protecting yourself from lead its a very DOABLE task.

ID the source

Avoid the source

Mitigate future exposure

Move on to something more fun


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