Used extensively in plumbing materials (pipes and lead-based solder) until the late 1980's, lead can leach into water supplies. Low levels of lead have been linked to learning disabilities in young children, and high levels can cause hypertension in adults.

Lead is a metal found in natural deposits of ores containing other elements. It is sometimes used in household plumbing materials or in water service lines used to bring water from the main to the home.

Lead may occur in drinking water either by contamination of the source water used by the water system, or by corrosion of lead plumbing or fixtures. Corrosion of plumbing is by far the greatest cause for concern. All water is corrosive to metal plumbing materials to some degree. Grounding of household electrical systems to plumbing may also exacerbate corrosion. Over time, lead-containing plumbing materials will usually develop a scale that minimizes further corrosion of the pipe.

Lead from pipes can leach into household water used for drinking, cooking, and washing. Lead is so toxic that even very low levels may be dangerous. Lead consumption and poisoning has been linked to many serious illnesses, especially in young children. Lead can harm mental and physical development and may cause brain abnormalities, kidney damage and hypertension. As with other water contaminants, the risk of lead damage is much greater for children than for adults. Because lead can accumulate in the body, consumers should test for lead levels at each faucet in the home, especially if the plumbing fixtures could be from the 1980's or older.

Links for more Information on Lead

Factsheet on Childhood Blood Lead Levels
Consumer BLL Fact Sheet.pdf
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