Get the Lead Out!!

It’s important to know if there is lead in your drinking water.  Some people, such as babies, children under 6, and nursing or pregnant women are more susceptible to the health concerns that lead in your water can cause.

Lead in your water comes primarily from corrosion of plumbing liens and fixtures.  If your water is corrosive (potentially due to a low pH, high alkalinity or high sodium or chlorides) and your plumbing has lead in it, this lead may be leaching from the fixtures into your water supply.  Lead has no taste or smell and you cannot see it when simply looking at a glass of water. Having it tested by an accredited lab is the only way to know if you have lead in your drinking water.  Lead does not commonly naturally occur in New Hampshire’s water sources.

Some factors that could increase the chances of your water having lead in it are:

  • Corrosive water supply
  • Service lines or goosenecks made of lead (in public systems)
  • Lead plumbing. Lead pipes are dull gray in color, not magnetic and are soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key as opposed to galvanized steel pipes which are magnetic and are dull when scraped.)
  • Copper pipes connected with lead solder installed prior to 1987. Allowable lead content in solder was reduced from 50% to 0.2% in 1986. Please note that corrosion on the outside of copper piping (green staining and pitting) does not mean the inside is as corroded.
  • Fixtures purchased before January 4, 2014 may contain up to 8% lead content. On that date, the requirement for lead-free fixtures and fittings was put in place.

Some ways you can minimize the possibility of lead exposure through your drinking water are:

  • Flush the water before you use it. By running your tap 15 seconds or so, you’ll purge the water that has been sitting in the pipes and be pulling water directly from the well/supply lines. You should do this if the system has been sitting for 6 hours or more.
  • You also can keep water in your refrigerator for drinking or cooking so you waste less water as opposed to the above option.
  • Inspect and clean the aerator on your faucet. This is the end with a screen that you can unscrew from your faucet. This screen can collect debris that can include particles of lead.
  • Install water treatment to treat corrosive water.  Water that is highly acidic (having a pH less than 7.0), alkaline or salty can leach lead from pipes and fixtures. Water treatment shall be determined based upon a full water quality analysis.
  • The best way to reduce the possibility of lead in your water is to get rid of the source. Change any pipes or fixtures that contain lead and replace them with plastic or “lead content certified” products (example: replace copper piping with pex piping).