Tap water may seem simple on the surface but zoom down to a microscopic level and you’ll find a lot more than hydrogen and oxygen. Water treated at local water facilities often contains a series of naturally occurring harmless chemicals, minerals, and sediments. Unfortunately, tap water may also have some level of potentially harmful substance contamination, including heavy metals like lead. With increased public awareness about the dangers of aging infrastructure and news headlines of compromised municipal water sources, concerns about lead in water are commonly raised in our local water experts’ consultations.
Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal that, if ingested, can negatively affect nearly every organ in the body and the nervous system as well. It’s been used for thousands of years in a myriad of forms—some safer than others—due to its malleability and easy extraction. As far back as the Roman Empire, where the metal was used to make water pipes, lead has found its way into drinking water.
Where Does Lead in Water Come From?
Lead in water most often comes from pipes, faucets, plumbing solder, fixtures, and fittings, especially those made before 1986. While lead water pipes have long been phased out, smaller lines that bring water into your home or office can be made of lead. Buildings without lead service lines can still face water contamination through brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and other fixtures that have been soldered with lead, as well as lead-lined tanks in water fountains. Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and buildings constructed before, you guessed it, 1986.
Lead enters drinking water through a chemical reaction in lead-containing plumbing materials—corrosion—which wears away at the pipes or fixtures. This reaction becomes more severe in water that is more acidic and has lower mineral concentration. Treatments to increase the pH of water, reduce its acidity, and make water less corrosive on its way through your faucet are just one of many steps taken to ensure a healthy, tasty water supply. The Safe Drinking Water Act, the US federal law protecting drinking water, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Lead and Copper Rule have set the standard for the maximum allowable lead content in an area’s water supply. Those standards and regulations are meant to ensure your local water supply maintains a safe level of lead in water ppm.
How Much Lead is Safe to Consume?
Humans can become exposed to lead through inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact. There is value in understanding how much lead is safe from a health standpoint. Lead exposure can be dangerous even at low levels, especially among children, babies, fetuses, and pregnant people. A small dose of lead that would be harmless to an adult can significantly harm young children, including damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, behavioral and learning disabilities, lower IQ, hyperactivity, anemia, and hearing impairment. Risks to pregnant people and their unborn babies include reduced fetus growth and risk of premature birth. Adults who suffer significant lead exposure can experience cardiovascular problems, decreased kidney function, and reproductive problems, among other symptoms.
Even the lowest levels of lead in drinking water can cause adverse health effects. Any amount less than .001 ppm (parts per million) is considered a safe level of lead in water ppm. If your water exceeds those limits, you’ll need to take action to ensure the safety of your employees that work in your building. The steps you’ll take to reduce the chances of ingesting lead will vary depending on the amount of lead detected in your water. You can review some precautionary measures here.
How to Check for Lead in Drinking Water?
Ideally, your drinking water will be free of lead. The best way to ensure your water is safe to drink is to get it checked out by a professional. Lead is a silent threat that can easily go undetected since you can’t see, smell, or taste dissolved lead in water. Get in touch with a local water expert to confirm exactly what kind of local water you’re dealing with and how much lead is safe for your individual situation.
You can also check the list of certified laboratories available from your state or local drinking water authority. Those experts will be able to provide you with useful information, including whether the service connector used in your office building is made of lead.
The Right Filtered Water Dispenser Can Reduce Lead in Water
Quench Water Experts recommend filtered water dispensers with advanced carbon or reverse osmosis filtration for businesses worried about lead in their water. Quench actually has specific filtration that is certified to reduce lead in drinking water. Businesses worried about lead contamination only should consider a carbon filter for their office.
Our filtered water dispensers are equipped with advanced carbon filtration and reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems. If lead is your main concern, the Quench Water Experts recommend a carbon filter (like the P02800) that is certified by a 3rd party laboratory for the reduction of lead for your office. These carbon filters have special additives that make the dissolved lead adsorb on the carbon. Carbon filters can also remove microscopic impurities, and eliminate off-tastes and odors caused by chlorine, sulfides, and other chemicals as well. If lead is only part of the problem, we recommend a filtered water dispenser with built-in reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system. RO systems may reduce not just lead, but asbestos, copper, chromium, radium, pharmaceuticals, and more. Discover more about the science behind reverse osmosis and how it works here.
Did you know Quench has our very own branded RO water that is not only clean but delicious as well? It’s called quenchWATER+ and it’s offered with our Q-Series filtered water dispensers, including the touchless Q8. quenchWATER+ goes through five stages of filtration to safeguard your employees against contaminants and impurities. Even better, the RO water passes over compressed minerals in our Mineral+ filter to add back a blend of calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and other healthy minerals to create electrolyte-enhanced alkaline water.
If you have lead concerns, we want to hear about it. Call your local water expert today at 888-877-0561 or click on the green “Get a Free” button above. Quench Water Experts are here to make sure you’re choosing the safest and best-tasting water for your business.
Quench Model P02800 1 Micron Lead Reduction Block certified by IAPMO R&T according to NSF/ANSI 42 for material safety and for the reduction of Chlorine, Taste and Odor. This system has been tested and certified by IAPMO in accordance to NSF/ANSI 53 for the reduction of lead. For more information, click here. Assumes normal usage, regular preventive maintenance and filter changes.