Lead, as a toxin hidden in drinking water, can contaminate your water supply. Its exposure is linked with irreversible changes in children, adults, and pregnant women. Therefore, the EPA has suggested it’s not even a small amount is safe for drinking. So, to avoid the threats, you need to check: is there lead in my water?
After testing lead contamination in your water, a call to action on what removes it from the water is needed. Thankfully, You can filter lead out of your water by using absorption media, flushing the pipes or removing them, or installing a water filter system to make water safe for drinking.
This blog will assist you in how to remove lead from water naturally and by using water treatment systems at home, ensuring quality drinking.
- Lead Poisoning in Drinking Water—A Silent Threat
- How to Test Water for Lead at Home
- How to Remove Lead From Water Naturally
- How to Filter Out Lead From Water
Lead Poisoning in Drinking Water—A Silent Threat
Lead is a bluish-gray, most prevalent heavy metal, comprised of 0.003% of the Earth’s crust. Lead, or its ores, are used in various products, such as paints, ceramics, solders, gasoline, batteries, ammunition, cosmetics, and more.
Historically, lead was used in plumbing because of its malleability, corrosion resistance, and ease of use. Its flexibility allowed for easy shaping of pipes and fittings, and its resistance helped to prevent corrosion. Over time, its toxicity and health risks were exposed, and lead plumbings were allowed to be replaced with suitable alternatives like copper, plastic, and stainless steel.
In the latest update of 2021, WHO analyzed that around 2 million lives lost to known chemicals exposure in 2019 were due to exposure to lead. Its long-term exposure was associated with idiopathic intellectual disability, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, anemia, immunotoxicity, and reproductive toxicity.
Where Does Lead in Drinking Water Come From?
After learning about its health threat, you may look at how does drinking water becomes contaminated by lead. It can exposed to the environment, including drinking water, due to its past and current uses. Lead pipes, taps, and fixtures are the most prevalent sources of exposure in drinking water. When plumbing components containing lead deteriorate, it can enter drinking water systems, especially in low pH, which corrodes pipes and fixtures.
However, the presence of lead depends on various factors such as water’s acidity and alkalinity, amounts of minerals in the water, temperature of the water, amount of wear in the pipes, water standing duration in pipes, and the presence of protective coatings inside the plumbing materials.
The main source of Lead Poisoning includes:
- Old homes that have lead pipes, fixtures, and solder
- By corrosion of plumbing materials
- The use of fossil fuels and mining
- Past use of leaded gasoline
- Past use of lead-based paint
- Expose through batteries and ammunition
- Expose through cosmetics
- Emitt through former lead smelters.
Well! The authority permitted lead-free plumbing with no more than a weight of 0.25% to reduce the effect of lead in drinking water and organized the Lead and Copper Rule to make plumbing less corrosive and less toxic for public use.
How to Test Water for Lead at Home
Lead has no odor or taste in water; testing is the only way to determine if your home’s water supply is contaminated. Here is how to test for lead in water
1. Contact Your Local Water Authority
EPA requires an annual water quality report from communities to address the quality standards each year. So, you must contact your local water utility, authority, or health department and demand a copy of their latest report. They may provide water quality reports and may have information on historical lead levels in your area.
2. Scratch Test
A scratch test may be used to determine if your pipes contain any lead. Scratch any corrosion built upon a pipe with a coin or the flat edge of a screwdriver gently. The pipe with lead composition appears glossy and silver on scratching.
However, this test might help you determine if your home’s water supply is at risk of lead contamination; it’s always preferable to use your pipes professionally inspected by a water specialist or a certified plumber.
3. Water Testing Kit
The lead water test kit is simple to use, requiring only the placement of a test strip in a sample of water. Later, you need to compare the color of the strip with the given color chart.
Unfortunately, the test kit will tell you if your water is lead-free or not. Kit can’t inform you about the exact amount. Therefore, we suggest a test done by a state-certified laboratory to get an accurate estimate level of lead in your water.
4. Certified Laboratory
Hiring a certified laboratory is the most accurate and authentic method to determine the exact amount of drinking water.
How to Remove Lead From Water Naturally
Natural methods may not be 100% effective, but they can reduce the lead amount. Additionally, there are other options available that you can use.
The various natural method that can assist you are as follow:
1. Activated Alumina
Activated alumina is a porous, granular material with a high surface area. It operates primarily through adsorption, where lead ions in the water are absorbed to the surface of the alumina particles and adhere to them.
The efficiency of activated alumina depends on factors like the pH of the water, the presence of competing ions, and the contact time between the water and the media.
2. Iron Oxide Media or Using Iron-Based Adsorbents
It is another medium that can be used naturally to remove lead, arsenic, and cadmium from water. Lead ions are absorbed and precipitated by iron oxide media, effectively removing them from the water.
3. Granulated Activated Carbon
Granulated carbon has organic charcoal, which can operate primarily through adsorption. The porous structure of activated carbon attracts and captures lead, chlorine, a few volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other contaminants.
The activated carbon media is highly efficient and used in water filtration systems (activated carbon filters) to ensure contaminant-free water.
4. KDF Filter Media
KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) media is primarily designed to remove certain contaminants, such as chlorine heavy metals like copper and iron, while lead to some extent. It works on the basis called redox (reduction-oxidation) reactions.
KDF media oxidize lead ions in water and dorm solid particles that can be filtered by using a filter such as a sediment filter.
However, KDF media alone may not be a reliable idea for high concentrations of lead or where lead leached from pipes and plumbing fixtures. To ensure effective lead removal from your water, consider using certified filtration systems for lead reduction.
5. Indoor Distillation
You can filter out lead using your homemade distillation technique. Fill a large pot with cold water to one-third capacity and place a tiny pot inside. Place the large pot over high heat and cover it with an upside-down lid.
When water evaporates, it rises to the top of the pot lid and condenses, where it runs down the center of the lid and drips into the little pot as distilled water, leaving the lead behind in the large pot.
6. Flushing Your Pipes
In order to flush, open all cold water taps in your home (sinks, showers, etc.) and let the water run for a few minutes until it feels cold. This process helps remove stagnant water that may have been in contact with lead-containing materials, such as lead pipes or lead solder.
7. Cleaning the Aerator on the Faucet
The faucet aerator is attached at the end of the faucet spout. Over time, it can accumulate sediment and particles, including lead. You may need to clean the debris from the aerators to improve water flow and quality.
8. Remove All Copper Pipes and Lead Solder
Lead in plumbing systems is primarily due to lead solder used to join copper pipes in older homes. So, you may need to remove lead solder and replace copper pipes that may have lead solder joints, which can eliminate lead exposure.
Importantly, if you remove these pipes and want to replace them with new ones, we suggest considering their certification that there shouldn’t be more than 0.025% lead in the plumbings.
How to Filter Out Lead From Water
The water treatments that can remove 95% of lead from well water are as follows:
1. Installing a Water Distiller
Distillation is one of the earliest ways of purifying water. Still, it is the most efficient against heavy metals, including lead, microorganisms, and more. In water distillers, the water is distilled it is heated to create steam, which is then condensed back into liquid water.
Contaminants, including heavy metals like lead, have higher boiling points than water and are left behind as the water turns into steam. The steam is then collected and condensed, resulting in purified water with reduced levels of lead and other impurities.
A water distiller can be installed at the point of use on a countertop, and floor units are also available. However, water distillers are efficient but expensive and are not ideal for treating drinking water on a large scale.
Other water treatment methods, such as activated carbon filtration, ion exchange, or reverse osmosis, are less energy-intensive and cost-effective options than distillation.
2. Install a Reverse Osmosis Filter
A reverse osmosis, highly advanced filter whose micron membrane can remove heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, pesticides, PFAs, microplastics, and more to make your drinking safe. It is an ideal choice if your well has a lead of more than 15 µg/L.
It is important to note that your RO water filter should be certified by WQA, IPAMO, or NSF standards 53/58/61/372.
In this system, pressure forces unfiltered water through a semipermeable membrane, which stops impurities such as lead while allowing pure water to pass— Lead Be Gone, Safe Hydration On!”
These systems are typically installed at the point of use, such as under the kitchen sink or the counter, and are mostly used in homes, offices, and some commercial settings. The systems are relatively compact, with a tank, tankless, and can be a practical choice for homes.
Whole-house RO Systems with pre and post-filters are the bonus, which can resolve all your contaminant issues.
You may need to install and maintain RO filters properly to ensure lead and other contaminants are removed from your drinking water effectively. Most importantly, you may need to change the filter cartridges periodically and maintain them regularly.
3. Activated Carbon Filters
Activated carbon filters are made up of activated carbon, having pores with a large surface area and infrastructure. When water passes through the activated carbon media, it absorbs chemicals and other impurities, including lead.
It’s worth noting that not all carbon filters are capable of removing lead. But their availability, in combination with additional treatments such as reverse osmosis and ion exchange, makes them just ‘wow’ for lead removal. Importantly, ensure that your filter has been tested and certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or the Water Quality Association (WQA) certification.
Lastly, lead is a highly neurotoxic element whose contamination of even 1% is not acceptable. Before removal, it is very important to check the water quality whether it is present or not. You may need to get a yearly report from the local municipal authority or send a sample to the lab for testing.
After testing, you can choose the ideal treatment system for your water, depending on the budget and concentration. However, we suggest using a certified reverse osmosis system that can ensure safe, healthy, and lead-free hydration.