Getting the Lead Out

And the results are in:  there's lead in our home's water.

More precisely, there's lead in our home's pipes, and it is leaching into our water.  I'm not terribly surprised although it did feel like I got a bad report card.  Our building was built back in the 1940s, so even though it underwent major renovations, the pipes did not get converted.  Also, even with new pipes, the solder used to weld the pipes together can contain lead in them too that can leach into the water.  (This is why NRDC supported California's bill 3 years ago to change the definition of "lead-free" pipes and pipe fittings from containing 8% lead to 0.25% lead.)

So here are our results.  The first draw sample showed 4 parts per billion (ppb) of lead.  The second draw - taken after the water ran for 2 minutes - showed ND or non-detect.  This means that when water is sitting in our pipes over night or all day while we're at work, the lead from the pipes is leaching into the water.  The ND means that when "fresh" water is coming from the main line, there is no lead.  While 4 ppb isn't too bad (15 ppb is the EPA "action level" for lead), it's still best to have zero.

Since we're thinking about starting a family, the reverse osmosis (RO) filter would be playing it ultra-safe.  But we have some space issues to work around.  So as a stop gap, we decided to get a pitcher filter.  We looked at the NSF website, found the filter that would remove lead, and headed to the store to buy it.  Interestingly, we saw that some filters say they are certified to remove lead, but weren't listed on the NSF website.  I talked to NSF, and they said that the website listing is more accurate and up-to-date than the labels on the boxes. 

We've also started running the water in the morning and when we first come home from work to run the water for 2 minutes - maybe to wash the dishes from breakfast or water the plants - just in case.

And the hardest part about doing this testing?  Remembering to take the samples first thing in the morning.  It took me two weeks before I remembered to take my sample before using the water for other things.  I'm too bleary-eyed in the morning, so I ended up taking the sample when I came home from work.  Glad I did!