As you can see by the headlines, lead in our drinking water is a major concern. What are acceptable levels? The EPA sets the limit at 15PPB (parts per billion), however most health professionals agree that no lead in our water is best. So what can YOU do? The first thing you can do is read your municipality water report. If you are in an older city, like us in Chicago, you are more than likely at risk for having lead in your water. Most of our older homes have lead supply pipes bringing water into our homes. Lead water pipes were used as recently as the 1960’s. So, are you safe if your home was built after 1960? Not necessarily. It was not until 1986 when President Reagan passed a law outlawing lead in plumbing solder and flux. There are hundreds of thousands of homes in the Chicagoland area that have lead services or lead solder in their pipes.
What can you do? If you do not want to filter the water you drink, one thing you can do to minimize lead exposure is to run your water for several minutes prior to drinking it. It is proven that the longer the water sets in lead contaminated pipes the more lead that will leach into it, so running the water will drain out all of the water that was sitting in the pipes absorbing the lead. Also, never use the water off the hot water tap for drinking or cooking. It is also proven that heated water accelerates the lead leaching into our water.
You are probably wondering what else you can do. There are water filters available that remove the lead from your water. Unfortunately, because of their design, whole house versions are not yet available. Two methods of removing lead from your drinking water are both point of use. The first is reverse osmosis. It is effective but it unfortunately wastes a great deal of water in the process of filtering. It also makes the water very acidic so you cannot have any copper piping on the outgoing side of the filter or it will rapidly corrode the piping. The other method of filtration that is very effective is block carbon filtration. The only drawback is that you cannot put the filter on an existing faucet. It needs to be installed on its own faucet that will allow for less restriction in flow. This is needed because the block carbon slows down the water flow in its filtering process. Another great benefit to the carbon filter is that it removes chlorine and Chloramines and the bad taste and odor associated with them.
Every home is different. If you are concerned about YOUR water quality, call the professional water quality experts at John Baethke & Son Plumbing. We will customize a solution that best address’ your health and safety concerns. www.BaethkePlumbing.com
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