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      How Safe is Your Drinking Water?  >  Contamination resulting from corrosion of pipes and natural elements  >  Lead

Contamination resulting from corrosion of pipes and natural elements - Lead

Lead is a dangerous metal that has been linked to several serious health problems. Lead does not normally occur in ground or surface water sources though lead mining and smelting could result in contamination of surface water. When released in the environment, lead chemically bonds into soil and does not make its way into groundwater. Because lead so rarely occurs in water sources, municipal water systems do not normally treat for it.

Lead typically makes its way into drinking water through the corrosion of pipes in homes. Water normally enters the home lead-free but it picks up lead as it travels through pipes to the tap. In 1978, government officials banned the use of lead in home plumbing systems, but any houses built before 1978 may contain lead piping. Lead has remained one of the most problematic contaminants in drinking water supplies, due to the inability of city water systems to regulate its presence.

Both short-term and long-term exposure to lead in drinking water can cause serious health problems. The effects of lead in drinking water are most serious for pregnant women and young children. For children, lead can cause delays in normal physical and mental development as well as deficits in attention span, hearing, and learning ability. Pregnant women should be especially wary about lead in drinking water as it can cause severe problems in their babies’ development. For adults, short-term exposure to lead can cause interference with red blood cell chemistry and slight increases in blood pressure. A lifetime of exposure to lead can cause kidney failure, stroke, and cancer.

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How Safe is Your Drinking Water?
• Introduction - The Value of Drinking Water
• Groundwater and Surface Water
• Herbicides and Insecticides - History & Occurrence
• Herbicides and Insecticides - Specific Chemicals and Health Effects
• Nitrate
• Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs)
• Chlorine
• Chlorine Byproducts
• Fluoride - Recent Discoveries
• Fluoride - Adverse Health Effects
• Lead
• Mercury and Arsenic
• Bacteria and Viruses
• Protozoa
• Human and Animal Feces
• Conclusion - The Importance of Drinking Filtered Water
• References
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