Should I Be Concerned About Lead Pipes in My Home?
Lead was the most common material used for pipes for decades. It’s easy to weld, resistant to rust, and cheap as well. However, lead is believed to cause a number of health concerns in people with lead poisoning, leading to a number of severe symptoms in both adults and children.
Nowadays, PVC and copper are more commonly used for piping in new build properties. However, many homes built prior to the 1950s still contain lead pipes. Should you be concerned if you have lead pipes in your home? Let’s take a look.
A Serious Health Concern
We absorb lead through the water we drink, the food we eat, and the air we breathe, and the effects of lead poisoning on the body range from mild to severe. Lead poisoning in children can lead to learning difficulties and developmental delays, while adults can experience everything from headaches to infertility. It is only in the last few decades that we have come to understand the true problems associated with lead in things like paint, with the dangers of lead pipes only being realized in the wake of the Flint Water Crisis of 2014-15. Clearly, something needs to be done.
However… Lead Pipes Alone Are Not Automatically a Threat
If your home uses lead in its plumbing, you don’t need to panic just yet. While it would be better to get them replaced with a more suitable material, lead pipes on their own are not automatically a threat. Over time, oxidized metal builds up in the pipe and this protects the water that travels inside it. So long as the PH of the water is controlled at water treatment plants, municipalities can prevent this layer from corroding – and they can also add extra chemicals to the water too to facilitate this coating. It is when the PH of the water is incorrect and the water chemistry is not adjusted that issues like the Flint Water Crisis occur.
Of course, while the above is all well and good for people who receive their water from treatment plants, if you receive your water from a well, you shouldn’t be quite so laid back. This water is not treated and there is no guarantee that the water entering your home is free of lead.
What Are Your Options?
The first thing you should do is have your water tested for lead. A certified water testing lab will be able to do this for you and advise on the recommended steps to take if there is a problem. Second, you can purchase a water filter that removes lead. Third, it’s a good idea to run your taps for a while prior to drinking water from them. This is especially important first thing in the morning when any lead will have had time to build up in the pipes. Finally, if you are concerned, you may want to look into having your plumbing replaced.
Lead poisoning is serious, but just having lead pipes in your property isn’t an immediate concern. Keep the above advice in mind and seek professional help if required.