Health Effects on Lead
Lead is an industrial material that is still widely used in places such as car batteries, soldering cables, weights for lifting, and many more. It is harmless when in contact with solid lead through our skins but it will be life-threatening if the lead was consumed in our bodies.
Young children and infants are the most vulnerable to lead intoxication. Their immune systems are still in the early stage of development. The body is unable to react quickly to foreign contamination. Based on the studies conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), five micrograms per deciliters of lead found in a child’s blood is considered intoxication.
With this small amount of lead, it may result in:
- Slower brain development
- A blood disorder such as anemia
- Learning disorder
- Hearing impairment
Pregnant women too are at greater risk when in contact with lead. When in contact with lead during their pregnancy, the toxic material that enters the body will flow into the fetus. The fetus is even more vulnerable compared to infants and children.
As a result, it will cause :
- Birth defects
- Premature birth
Although adults are less susceptible to lead intoxication, it is able to bioaccumulate in our bodies. Frequently exposed to lead will suffer from:
- Cardiovascular sicknesses such as hypertension, high blood pressure
- Kidney and Liver failure.
- Damage to central nervous system
How Does Lead Appear In Drinking Water?
Lead normally appears from corroded pipes, low-quality brass faucets, and fixtures using lead solders. Old houses that were built in the ’80s are using lead pipes that have a high amount of lead testing in water.
Lead in water is caused by worn pipes that have a constant chemical reaction with minerals found in the water. Hot water is one of the factors that accelerate the chemical reaction against the corroded pipe that produce lead.
Other factors such as the pH difference of the source of water and the types of mineral that is dissolved in the source water might increase the lead contamination in drinking water.
Will Lead Absorb Through Skin?
No. The lead will not penetrate through human skin. You are safe to shower and wash with contaminated water. However, it is unavoidable to have consumed the water from the showerhead, and it is pretty dangerous as the toxic material will flow into your body.
Fruits and vegetables that were cleansed with water will absorb the minerals and cause intoxication when you consume them. Indirectly, you increase the chances of consuming toxic material.
Ways to Avoid In Contact With Lead
- Avoid using hot water directly from the tap. Hot water is more likely to contain lead compare to cold water. Use only cold water on your dinner preparation
- Allow the tap to run for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Running the pipes for a while helps to flush out the contaminated water that has been idle for hours.
- Use water filters or water treatment systems. Most water treatment systems are able to remove lead from drinking water.
- Avoid contact with contaminated water on cuts and wounds. The lead will flow directly into your bloodstream when in contact with cuts and wounds. This is the most dangerous situation that you can even imagine. You should only clean the wounds with clean water.
Boiling drinking water WILL NOT help in removing lead. It is not a type of mineral like chlorine that can evaporate while exposed to high temperatures.
Various tests can be done to ensure the safety of your family members.
- Water Contamination Test. Visit your local drinking water authority to perform a water test to have peace of mind. Lead is not able to be detected by the naked eye. Hence, a laboratory test is required to analyze the water samples for harmful minerals. The test is in the range of $20 – $100.
- Blood Test. A simple blood test is able to distinguish whether are you at risk of lead intoxication. Perform a regular blood test to ensure the safety of your children as they are more vulnerable than you are.
Preventive measure is always better than cure. Start protecting your family from water contamination. Don’t you think so?