March Newsletter Preview: What’s in Your Tap Water?

March 5, 2012

Lead is a well-known metal that has been used for years in piping inside in the home.  However, in 1987, New Jersey banned the use of lead due to its harmful effects.  Nevertheless, N.J. homes that have been built 50 or more years ago may still contain piping and paint that contains lead that can be seeping into the water we drink.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, up to 20-percent of the lead that we are exposed to comes from our drinking water.

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Lead can affect the brain, kidneys, nervous system and red blood cells.  Young children and pregnant women are at the greatest risks when it comes to the lead in our drinking water.

The factors that may affect the amount of lead that can get into your water include:

  • Type of plumbing materials.  The amount of lead used in soldering joints within the pipes can be up to 50-percent.
  • Length of time the water stands in the pipes.  Water that is in the pipes for a certain amount of time may allow lead more time to seep into the water.
  • Corrosive water.  Corrosive water may be caused by high acidity and low mineral content and it can increase the amount of lead in the water.
  • Grounding of electrical wires to water pipes.  This can cause a higher rate of corrosion.

The best way to tell if your drinking water is contaminated with lead is to have it tested by a local company and have the test results reviewed by New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.  After receiving the results of the tests, you may also want to have your family checked for lead poisoning by your family physician.

In order to ensure that you are doing everything you can to reduce the amount of lead you may be consuming through your tap water, follow these tips.

1. Let your water run for 15-20 seconds if it has not been used for several hours to flush out the lead that may be in the water that has been sitting in the pipes.

2. Do not drink, cook or prepare food with hot tap water.  Lead is often highest in hot water.

3. Avoid boiling water excessively.  The boiling of water can increase the level of lead in the water.

If you live in a home that may have piping that was installed prior to the 1987 N.J statute preventing the use of lead-based building materials, it is important to get your water tested.  Contact a local company that can check your water for levels of lead and other contaminants.  Also, reach out to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services in order get more information about lead in your tap water.

Don’t let lead be the cause of your family’s health problems.  Do something about your drinking water before it is too late.

Resources:

http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/hhazweb/lead.pdf

http://water.epa.gov/drink/local/nj.cfm

http://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/njdwqinstitute.htm

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