In a previous article, we discussed what arsenic is, its dangers, where it’s found in Pennsylvania, and, most importantly, what you can do about it.

In this article, we are going to continue the discussion of heavy metals and discuss lead. Due to its dangers and it’s relatively recent news focus, we want to provide more information so you can protect you and your family.

What is Lead?

Like arsenic, lead is a heavy metal that is found naturally occurring in the earth’s crust. And, while it has beneficial uses, it is also can be highly toxic to humans.

How Does Lead Get Into Your Water?

Most water is lead free until it gets in your home. If your water tests positive for lead, it probably came from your own pipes, or possibly a plumbing fixture. Lead was commonly used in plumbing and in Pennsylvania until it was banned in 1986. Older homes may still have lead pipes. As they corrode with age – or due to the chemical composition of your water – lead ends up in your water. As mentioned in the article about arsenic, many of the water treatment options for arsenic could corrode your pipes and release lead, so it’s important to test your water regularly even if you have a water treatment system. The higher the acidity of your water, the faster the corrosion.

The Dangers of Lead Poisoning

Lead is extremely toxic, and can lead to a wide range of health problems, from digestive discomfort to immune system damage. Children are particularly susceptible to lead, and exposure can lead to permanent developmental and neurological damage. Adults may experience reproductive problems or even miscarriage.

The good news is that according to the CDC, the amount of lead in our blood is less than it was thirty years ago. But according to the EPA, no amount of lead is safe. Public drinking water must be tested and cannot exceed 15 ppb. However, well owners are responsible for testing their own water. And even if you are hooked up to public water, no one but you is testing what’s happening within your own pipes.

Water Treatment Options to Remove Lead

Since lead typically comes from within your home, the best solution is to find and remove the source. Though it can be costly and inconvenient to replace corroded pipes or your favorite fixture, your health is more important. If metal pipes are black or grey, and your home was built before 1986, there may be lead. Dierolf can help you test your water to determine if you have any amount of lead in your water.

Do not boil water to remove lead. This will actually concentrate it further. If you must drink water that might be contaminated with lead, make sure it’s cold. You should run the facet for a few minutes to flush out any water that had been resting in your pipes.

If the source of lead cannot be found and replaced, there are a few treatment options to remove lead from your water.

Reverse Osmosis

Just like with arsenic, Reverse Osmosis can be used to remove lead – up to 99% in fact. No pretreatment is necessary. However, most systems only treat a few gallons of water a day from a single faucet, which may not be enough to meet the needs of your household. Lead is not absorbed through the skin, so it is safe to shower in untreated water.


Unlike boiling water yourself, distillation systems will remove lead. However, this is a slow process and not always practical to meet your family’s water needs.

Carbon Filters

Certain carbon filters are formulated to remove lead. Carbon filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to install but must be replaced frequently to be effective.

In Summary

Both lead and arsenic can build up in our bodies and cause serious and even fatal health problems. That’s why it’s so important to have your water tested annually, especially if it comes from a private well. Even if you use public water, lead could be leaching out of your own pipes. The good news is that there are several options available to purify your water. Give Dierolf Plumbing and Water Treatment a call today to discuss the best solution.

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