The City of Pompano has been making headlines recently with dozens of stories in the news about the high level of lead in it's water. If you've picked up a paper any where in South Florida lately you've probably seen headlines like these:
water tainted by excessive lead levels,
health experts say." The Sun
"High levels of lead found in tap water samples." The Miami Herald
"Officials discover excessive levels of lead in water." The Palm Beach Post
Even Channel 10 did its part to raise awareness of this important health issue by reporting the danger Pompano residents face by drinking, cooking, and bathing in this contaminated water. Not only did they include it in their nightly broadcast but they posted their findings on their web site: Health Officials Warn Of Possibly High Lead Levels In Water. Pompano Beach Residents Urged To Take Precautions. To read the full article click here
Whether you live in Pompano or not we strongly recommend that you have your water tested for lead and other water bourne contaminants today. To schedule a FREE in-home water test click here.
Lead is one of the most dangerous pollutants found in drinking water. Lead can leach into water from lead plumbing, lead solder and brass alloy faucets.
Healthcare researchers estimate that as many as 20% of Americans are exposed to dangerously high levels of lead in their drinking water. Over 90% of all US homes have lead in their plumbing in some form. (Lono Kahuna Kupua, 1998)
This can cause lowered IQ, memory reduction and shorter attention spans in children. It also is responsible for kidney, brain and central nervous system disorders. It can cause miscarriages, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, impotency, numerous nervous system disorders and even death.
Lead gives a sweet taste to water, causing people to mistakenly believe that their water is exceptionally "good".
Water may contain naturally occurring contaminants such as lead, copper and iron. There may be undesirable tastes and odors in water, such as the gas hydrogen sulfide that produces the objectionable "rotten egg" odor. Water may also show turbidity (fine particles) and sediment (course particles). These particles, suspended in water, may come from sand, iron, industrial solvents, or any number of sources. These contaminants may or may not be in your water.
The quality of your water depends on many factors, such as your location, your water source, your treatment plant's efficiency, the condition of the pipes in your home, as well as the pipes coming into your home.
Any filtration equipment that you have in your home may also affect the quality of your drinking water. If filters are not maintained properly, contaminants can build up inside them and provide an environment for bacterial growth.
The presence of lead in drinking water is more prevalent and serious than many people realize Despite common perceptions, lead is not restricted to inner-city communities, but rather is a problem that affects many water systems across the country. According to an Environmental Protection Agency study released in 1993, more that 800 drinking water systems around the nation contain excessive lead. Today, the EPA estimates that more than 40 million Americans are exposed to potentially dangerous amounts of lead in their drinking water.
Recent legislation has helped decrease the problem. In 1991, the EPA imposed new standards for lead levels in drinking water that are 10 times more protective than levels previously thought to be safe. The new standard allows for a lead level of no more than 15 parts per billion (ppb). Current studies, however, show that lead levels in our drinking water continue to be too high. What's more, new research indicated that lead may be more harmful than previously thought.
Who is at Risk
People of all ages are at risk. Studies show that young children, infants and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to unsafe lead levels. The EPA estimates that one in six American children under the age of 6 has elevated lead in their blood.
Lead is especially dangerous to children and pregnant women because it can impair a child's mental and physical development, reduce a baby's birth weight and cause premature birth. Prolonged exposure to increased lead levels also can cause aggressive behavior, hyperactivity and learning problems. In adults, increased lead levels have been linked to high blood pressure and damaged hearing. Serious lead poisoning can lead to blindness, brain damage and mental retardation.
How Lead gets into your Water
Drinking water comes from one of two sources: surface water, which is rainwater and melted snow that collects in streams, lakes and reservoirs; and groundwater, which is pumped from wells in bedrock and soil.
Water is virtually leaf-free as it leaves these sources and is processed through the municipal water treatment plant. It is during its journey from the water treatment facility to your tap that lead can leach into the water.
Water travels from the treatment plant to your neighborhood through large service mains under streets, and then through smaller connectors and service lines to your house or building. Even if the water main pipes are lead-free, the connectors, service lines and pipes within your home or building are likely to contain some lead, either in the pipe itself or in the solder used to connect copper pipes. Even some brass and chrome-plated faucets leach lead into the water.
Water Chemistry helps to increase the presence of lead. Lead is more likely to leach into water that is acidic, has a low mineral content and sits in contact with the lead for a long time. It is less likely to dissolve into hard water, which has a high content of dissolved minerals that over time, can coat the inside of pipes, preventing lead from entering the water.
In response to the growing lead problem in water, Congress in 1986 restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials to 8 percent and banned the use of lead solder containing greater than 2 percent lead. Even with these restrictions, aggressive waters can still leach out dangerous amounts of lead in a few hours. Many homes and buildings constructed before this time are likely to have even more lead in their plumbing systems. Research shows that many of the faulty systems tend to be in older communities.
Detecting Lead in your Water
Lead cannot be seen, tasted or smelled in drinking water. The best way to determine if it is present is to have it tested.
Your local water supplier is required to test the overall system and inform you if as few as 5% of the samples exceed 15ppb lead. If you want to take samples in your home or business, either your supplier or the state health department should be able to provide you with the name of a certified drinking water testing laboratory. Or check the Yellow Pages under "laboratories". Be sure the lab is state-certified. They generally provide their own bottles and instructions for taking samples. The cost of a water test varies, depending upon the number of contaminants you wish to test for. However a good general test for most common contaminants usually can be conducted for less than $150. A test for lead alone should cost $15 - $30.
Steps for Reducing Lead in Drinking Water
Let the cold water run for a few minutes before you use it for drinking or cooking. Water that stands in pipes for several hours is more likely to contain lead.
Use cold water when cooking and preparing baby formula. Hot water can dissolve lead more quickly than cold water.
Have pipes inside your home and those connecting your home to the water service main inspected by a licensed plumber.
Removing Lead from Water
While government legislation has helped reduce lead levels in water, the best solution for protecting yourself from lead is to remove it from the water. This can be done simply and cost effectively with a point-of-use drinking water filtration system Certified for Lead Reduction by NSF International, an independent testing agency that sets standards for products that can affect public health.
Typically the size of a household fire extinguisher, POU systems are installed on the cold water line to a single faucet or outlet - a water cooler or fountain, or a kitchen or bathroom sink. As water passes through the POU both particulate and dissolved contaminants can be dramatically reduced, depending upon the design and media used. Lead contamination can be both dissolved and particulate so POU systems must be able to handle both.