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How To Remove Lead From Water (Step-by-Step) 

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

Clean water is one of our most basic needs. Unfortunately, lead poisoning is a common problem that has severe consequences for your health.

Thankfully, you can take steps to remove lead from your water supply.

Step 1: Identify the Source of Lead in Your Water

Identify the Source of Lead in Your Water
Identify the Source of Lead in Your Water

There are a few ways that lead can enter your water. It could come from lead pipes connecting your home to the main water supply.

It could also be leaching from the solder used to join copper pipes. In some cases, the lead could be present in the water supply itself.

The first step in removing lead from your water is identifying the source. If you have lead pipes, it’s wise to replace them.

If the lead comes from solder, you can have a plumber replace the affected pipes. You must use a filter if the lead is in the water supply.

Certain fixtures in an older house may be releasing lead into your water supply. However, the chemical can also come from your water lines.

Step 2: Test Lead Levels in Water

Test Lead Levels in Water
Test Lead Levels in Water

If you believe there is lead in your water, the only way to know for sure is to test it. You can buy a do-it-yourself water test kit or hire a professional to test your water.

You should also purchase a municipal water report to check and see if the lead is coming from the fixtures in your house or the main water lines.

If the results of your water test show lead in your water, there are ways to test it.

Step 3: Choose Treatment Method To Remove Lead From Water

Choose Treatment Method To Remove Lead From Water
Choose Treatment Method To Remove Lead From Water

Now that you know there is lead in your water and how much, it’s time to choose a treatment method to remove the chemical. Depending on the levels of lead found and your personal preferences, you have several different options:

  • Water filter: A water filter is an excellent option if you want an easy, affordable way to remove lead from your water. There are many effective types of filters on the market, so be sure to choose one specifically designed to remove lead.
  • Reverse osmosis: Reverse osmosis is a more expensive option, but it’s effective at removing lead and other contaminants from water. A reverse osmosis system consists of a filtration unit that you can install under your sink for the removal procedure.
  • Distillation: Distillation is a process that involves boiling water and then collecting the condensed steam. This method is efficient at removing lead and other contaminants from water. Unfortunately, distillation is also expensive.

In addition to installing a water filter to remove the lead in your water, you should get rid of the source of lead in your water.

Removing the source of lead is the only way to ensure that you will not be exposed to lead and its adverse health effects.

Unfortunately, the following steps are much more expensive than installing a water filter.

  • Avoid using lead pipes: If you have lead pipes in your home, you can only reduce your exposure to the chemical by using water from the cold water tap. You should also run the cold water for a minute or two before using it to flush out any lead that may have built up in the pipes.
  • Replace lead pipes: If you have lead pipes in your home, the best way to remove lead from your water is to replace the pipes. Getting new ones is a significant renovation project, so it is essential to consult with a professional before proceeding.

Be sure to choose a solution that is right for you and your family. Regular water testing is also vital to ensure your water is free of lead.

Step 4: After Treatment, Check If the Water Is Finally Free From Lead

After Treatment, Check If the Water Is Finally Free From Lead
After Treatment, Check If the Water Is Finally Free From Lead

After treating your water for lead, you must check if you have solved the problem. You can do a review yourself with a home test kit, or you can hire a professional.

If the test results show that there is still lead in the water, you may need to try a different treatment method or seek help from a water specialist.

If the lead test returns negative, you can take additional steps to protect yourself from lead in your water supply.

Try installing a water softener. A water softener will not remove lead from your water, but it can help reduce the amount of lead absorbed into your body.

Your body is more likely to absorb lead if the former is in contact with hard water. A water softener won’t remove all of the lead from your water, but it can help reduce your exposure.

Additionally, you should get your water tested regularly. Even if you take measures to remove lead from your water, it’s crucial to have a professional test your water periodically.

Their findings will help you identify any new lead sources and take steps to remove the chemical.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are common questions related to lead contamination.

How does lead get in water?

The most typical lead sources in your drinking water are pipes, faucets and other plumbing fixtures containing lead. Excess amounts of lead are more common in homes built before 1986.

However, new homes are still at risk. Service pipes may contain lead even if the fixtures in your house don’t.

Service lines are the pipes that connect a home or building to the main water supply pipe in the street. In the past, builders often used lead in these pipes and the interior plumbing of homes and buildings.

Workers sometimes smolder plumbing fixtures made from brass, galvanized iron and other materials with lead. They line some water tanks with lead, so these practices are another way lead can enter your water.

Lead enters water through a chemical reaction known as corrosion. Corrosion is the dissolving or wearing away of a metal.

This reaction will occur at different rates depending on the acidity or mineral content of the water.

High acidity and lower mineral content water will have the highest corrosion rates.

Other factors that can impact corrosion levels are the water temperature, the age of the pipes, the length of time the water stays in the pipes and the use of the protective coating.

What are the most common signs of lead in water?

Lead in water is dangerous because you cannot taste, see or smell it. The only way to know if there are harmful levels of lead in your water is to have a professional test the liquid.

What are the health effects of drinking lead-contaminated water?

Lead is a health hazard if ingested, and exposure to high levels of lead can cause serious health problems like brain damage, kidney damage, high blood pressure, and anemia. It can also cause infertility.

Children and pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead.

After you ingest lead, your body stores the chemical in bones, blood and tissue. As a result, any exposure to lead results in long-term exposure.

As humans age, any lead stored in their bones will be released, putting older individuals, especially women, at greater risk.

The most common symptoms of lead exposure are:

  • stomach problems and abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • pain/tingling in the hands and feet
  • memory loss
  • nervous system damage
  • learning difficulties
  • behavioral problems
  • kidney damage
  • high blood pressure
  • anemia
  • lethargy
  • headache
  • weakness

Symptoms of lead poisoning often come on slowly, and it can be easy to miss them.

Prolonged exposure to lead can also put individuals at higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease. Lead also causes cancer.

Lead can pass from mother to child, so pregnant women who’ve been exposed to lead can also expose their unborn child. Lead poisoning often damages the development of an unborn child.

It harms the growth of the baby’s nervous system and has severe consequences for their behavior and intelligence. High levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirths and other complications.

If you suspect that your water may be contaminated with lead, it’s vital to have a certified laboratory test it. You can also message your local water utility for information on how to test your water for lead.

What are the acceptable levels of lead in water?

Lead is harmful to human health even at low levels of exposure. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at 0.015 mg/L.

That benchmark means that if more than 10% of tap water samples collected by a water system exceed the action level, the system must take steps to reduce the lead level.

This lead level is a result of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Due to this legislation, the EPA set National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWRs or primary standards) for contaminants that may cause adverse human health effects.

Fortunately, the government can enforce these standards since they apply to public water systems.

How much does it cost to remove lead from water?

There are many ways to remove lead from water. Some methods are more effective than others. Some standard techniques are:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Filtration
  • Distillation

Reverse osmosis is a process where water is forced through a semipermeable membrane. This procedure removes impurities from the water, including lead.

You can purchase reverse osmosis systems for around $200.

Filtration is another standard method of lead removal. Filtration systems use several filters to remove impurities from water.

The type of filter you need will depend on your water quality. You can buy water filters for as little as $30.

Distillation is a process where water is heated until it turns into steam. It is then collected and condensed back into water.

The condensing leaves behind impurities, including lead. You can buy a distillation system for around $200.

Another helpful step is to remove any lead-lined pipes or fixtures from your house and use a water filter system. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive task, and the total cost for changing lead-lined pipes and fixtures can range from $1,200 to $12,300.

What is the cheapest way to remove lead from water?

The cheapest way to remove lead from water is with a filtration system. You can buy filters for as little as $30. However, the cost will depend on your water needs and the amount of lead in your water.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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