Lead is a poisonous metal that can cause long-term health and behavioral problems. Lead occurs naturally and has been used in many products around the world. The main way to be exposed to lead in Rhode Island is through lead-based paint in homes built before 1978.
However, there are also many other ways to come in contact with lead, including through drinking water.
Paint - Lead was used in paint to add color, improve the ability of the paint to hide the surface it covers, and to make it last longer. In 1978 the federal government banned lead paint for use in homes. Homes built before 1978 probably contain lead-based paint. Painted toys and furniture made before 1978 may also contain lead-based paint. Lead-based paint becomes a concern when it chips, turns into dust, or gets into the soil.
There is No Safe Level of Lead -
Coming in contact with lead can cause serious health problems for everyone. Researchers keep finding more ways that lead is toxic. Levels that were once considered safe are now dealt with as a medical emergency.
Who is Most at Risk? -
Children under six years, and pregnant women are at the highest risk. Coming in contact with too much lead can damage the brain, kidneys, and nervous system. In children, lead can also slow development or cause learning, behavior, and hearing problems.
Private Wells -
Private wells more than 20 years old may contain lead in the “packer” element that is used to help seal the well above the well screen. Some brands of older submersible pumps used in wells may also contain leaded-brass components. Corrosion of pipes and fixture parts can cause the lead to get into tap water.
Learn more about the quality of water in your home. Since you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way of telling whether there are harmful quantities of lead in your drinking water.
There are water treatment methods such as reverse osmosis, distillation, and carbon filters specially designed to remove lead. Typically these methods are used to treat water at only one faucet
What You Should Know: It is unlawful to test drinking water without certification. Recently, companies, including prominent big-box retailers, have offered "free" testing in exchange for a sales pitch for expensive and often unnecessary treatment systems. Remember to have your water tested by an independent, certified laboratory before making any decision about treatment. Only a certified testing laboratory can provide an objective analysis of your drinking water.
Can lead be absorbed by your skin while showering or bathing in it?
No. You can't absorb lead through your skin by showering or bathing in it. You do need to take precautions when it comes to drinking or cooking with water.
Can you boil water to remove the effects of lead?
No. Heating or boiling your water will not remove lead. Because some of the water evaporates during the boiling process, the lead concentration of the water can actually increase slightly as the water is boiled.
Rhode Island's Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
CDC's National Environmental Public Health Tracking Program
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