• Lead Water: A Silent But Deadly Threat

    Are you doing enough to protect your family from lead poisoning? Roughly 853,000 people died from lead poisoning in 2013, attesting to the severity of this problem. While regulatory action by the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies have helped to curb these numbers, it remains a persistent threat to the public health.

    Lead is all around us; in fact, everyone has at least some trace amount of the heavy metal in their body. While small amounts are completely harmless, exposure to larger quantities can cause serious illness, known collectively as lead poisoning.

    Symptoms of lead poisoning may include one or more of the following:

    • Headaches
    • Aching joints
    • Fatigue/low energy
    • Aching muscles
    • Irritability
    • Mood swings
    • Loss of appetite
    • Infertility
    • Constipation
    • Nervousness
    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia

    Is Lead Water Really a Problem?

    We’ve known about the dangers of lead-tainted water for decades now. As a result, some people assume it’s no longer a problem. But statistics show that 14-20% of all lead exposure in the United States occurs through drinking water.

    One of the largest instances of lead-tainted water exposure in recent years occurred in Flint, Michigan. In 2014, the city switched its tap water source from the Detroit Water and Sewage system to the Flint River. It was later determined that officials failed to install the necessary corrosion inhibitors. Combined with aging pipes, this led to one of the nation’s worst cases of lead poisoning in recent years, exposing 6,000 to 12,000 children to high levels of heavy metal neurotoxin.

    Of course, the Flint River incident is just one of many instances in which public drinking water systems have been contaminated with lead.

    How Lead Enters Drinking Water

    Lead can enter drinking water in many ways, the most common of which is lead plumbing components. Homes constructed before 1986, for instance, may feature lead pipes, fixtures, fittings and other plumbing components. When these components begin to age, they’ll release lead which ends up in the water.

    Warning Signs of Lead in Water

    So, how do you know if your family’s tap water is tainted with lead? Unfortunately, you cannot see, taste or smell lead in drinking water. This is why exposure often goes unnoticed for years, resulting in severe poisoning that subsequently leads to neurological and other health problems.

    The only sure-fire way to know if your tap water is tainted with lead is by testing it. A simple do-it-yourself test can reveal whether or not there’s lead present, and if so, how much lead is present in your water. Following the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA), the EPA limits the amount of lead in water to 15 parts per billion.

    Preventing Lead in Water

    There are several steps you can take to prevent exposure to lead in water, one of which is to avoid drinking or cooking with hot tap water. When water comes from the tap hot, it’s more likely to leach lead from plumbing components. Allowing the cold water to run for 2-3 minutes before using it can also minimize exposure to lead.

    If you really want to protect your family from lead exposure, though, you should invest in a water softener. Water softeners are devices used to remove minerals, including lead, from the water. When water is “hard,” it contains a high concentration of minerals. Hard water can cause various health problems, only one of which is the potential for lead poisoning. But a water softener works to remove these minerals, making the water “soft” again.

    To learn more about lead poisoning and our industry-leading water softener services, contact us today. With more than 58 years of experience, Passaic Bergen is the industry’s premier water softening and filtration provider.

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