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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER FILTERS, HOME USE
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How lead enters the water supply: lead testing & repair advice. Depending on the duration and extent of lead-water contact, lead can enter the water supply if lead is present in supply piping or fixtures. Common sources of lead in water supply piping include older lead-bearing solder used on copper pipes, possible lead content in brass piping or fixtures, lead water supply piping (rare), and lead water supply entry main between a building and the public water main in the street (common in some areas).
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Readers of this article should see our review of a Home Test Kit for Lead in on building surfaces located at LEAD TEST KIT for HOME USE. The same company offers a lead-in-water test, as do local health departments and private water testing labs in most cities. Also see Lead Contamination in Drinking Water: Testing & Correction - Advice.
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Health hazards from lead content in water
An example of lead water supply piping at the building water main supply pipe is shown in our photo at left. Just how much lead this pipe contributes to the building water supply depends on several variables that we discuss along with additional photos of lead water supply (and drain) piping at LEAD PIPES in BUILDINGS.
Recently there was also a flurry of concern about lead contributed by brass in private well pumps. However the testing methods used for this latter topic misrepresented an exaggerated and frankly dubious risk. Finally, it is possible for lead to be found in private well water if lead contaminants have entered the local aquifer.
New York State Department of Health has set an action level of 0.015 mg/L of lead in a sample of water drawn from a tap used for drinking water after a 6-hour period of no water use.
Most local building codes do not require removal of lead, for example, the City of Poughkeepsie Building Codes do not require removal of residential lead supply lines (house to street).
However eventually (usually after 40-60 years) these lines corrode, leak, and have to be replaced. Replacing the main supply from street to the water meter, when required, could involve significant expense.
People with concerns for the amount of lead in water should consult the local health department and should have their water tested for lead. Typical lab fees are $20. to $25. per sample plus the cost of hiring an independent consultant to collect and handle the water sample if you don't do it yourself. Home test kits for lead cost around $10.00. See LEAD TEST KIT for HOME USE.
Even if you are not concerned with testing for lead in water it would be wise to reduce possible lead intake by flushing any lead-containing piping before drinking such water. In addition, lead-in-water removal equipment is available from water treatment companies.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the action level for lead in water
Question: How accurate is First Draw Advice for Testing Water for Lead Levels
My town is conducting a lead in water survey and wants me to take the first draw water out of one of our faucets when we get up in the morning. Is this the most accurate way to determine our family's exposure to lead in drinking water? - Anon. 1/13/2012
Watch out: if there is lead exposed to water passing through a water system then the results of a test of water for lead levels can vary drastically depending on many variables. However you should follow the water testing protocol recommended by your local health department or municipal authority. Otherwise your test results cannot be joined in any study of buildings or homes in your community.
However with a bit of research one can also construct a best case (minimum level of lead likely to be detected in water) and a worst case (likely to detect highest level of lead in drinking water). You can conduct those additional lead tests in order to get an idea of the bounds of possible lead exposure from drinking water in your building. Keep in mind that even these cases may vary over time as water temperatures and water chemistry will vary even if the lead exposure remains constant.
Lead-in-Water Testing Protocol for Best & Worst Case Scenarios
OPINION-DF: based on direct participation in a lead in water test program:
This s anecdotal report explains the difficulty of giving lead-in-water water test protocols to homeowners.
Some testing protocol instructions advise the homeowner to collect first-draw water samples after a night of no water running. That can be a mistake and can give misleading results as these four cases explain:
After that was flushed for a time sufficient to know I had water from the (non lead) main in the street I took a second sample.
When I sent in my high-lead sample to the city, and before I had explained my sampling protocol, the city rep found the results remarkable as they were inconsistent with similar homes on the same street.
In response to our water sample's very high lead level, the city wanted to do the test over again with a new protocol. The rep proposed to open a hydrant on the street, flush the water mains, then have me flush the house plumbing then collect a sample of water to test for lead level - what I call a "best case or lowest risk" sample. Their object was to force the building to pass the test (perhaps avoiding an expensive change to the city water chemistry managing equipment in order to reduce lead leaching rates.)
which was the end of that.
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