How does lead get into drinking water? Lead leaches into water from corroded pipes and fixtures. The Portland Water Bureau adjusts the pH of water to make it less corrosive. However, the area’s source water still reacts with some old plumbing.
The Portland-metro area gets water from the Bull Run Watershed and Columbia South Shore Well Field. This water is famous for its purity. Unfortunately, this clean source water hasn’t kept lead from contaminating water in homes and schools around Oregon.
The city is re-evaluating its water treatment program, according to a report by Oregon Public Broadcasting. In the future, the bureau may use additives to prevent lead from leaching into the water. Until that happens, homeowners and businesses can make plumbing upgrades to reduce the risk of lead poisoning.
If your home was built between 1970 and 1985, you should test its water for lead. The Clean Water Act prohibited the use of lead pipes and solder after 1986. Even if your home is newer or has newer pipes, testing can give you peace of mind.
Learn how to get a free lead-in-water test kit by reading our blog about lead testing. That post also includes simple ways to protect yourself and your family.
Plumbing Fixes that Reduce Lead in Water
Just because your home or plumbing is old, doesn’t mean there’s lead in your water or your blood. The only way to know is to get both tested.
If you do have elevated levels of lead, a change in your home’s plumbing may help. The changes range from major to minor. Here’s the spectrum of updates to consider:
Repiping: After 1970, homes were often built with copper pipes. Copper is joined by solder. Some of the solder contains lead. Other types of pipes can also contain contaminants.
Repiping is a big step and expense. If you need new pipes to protect your water and family’s health, the renovation is worth it.
Replace brass: Pipes aren’t the only thing that can leach lead. Water travels through faucets and other fixtures on the way to your kitchen and bathroom. If you have older brass fixtures in your home, they may contain lead. Replace brass with safe and efficient new fixtures.
Regularly clean and change aerators: Faucet aerators conserve water by slowing the flow of water. Aerators add a little air to the water, softening the hard stream into a soft shower. Screens in aerators can collect debris, including bits of corroded pipe.
When lead lodges in an aerator, it may leach into the water. You can ask a plumber to replace your faucet aerators. Clean aerators yourself by removing them, taking them apart and washing the screen.
Use filtered water: Water filters range from simple countertop models to whole-house systems. Install a filter on your kitchen tap to protect cooking and drinking water. Use a filter that’s rated to remove lead and other heavy metals. Change filters as recommended by the manufacturers.
Meticulous Plumbing can advise you on plumbing updates for your home. Contact us for more information about pipes and lead in water.