What Plumbers Need to Know about Lead in Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water is in the news on a regular basis. Here are five things plumbers need to know as they assist homeowners with their plumbing and water needs:

  1. Drinking water that meets federal guidelines for safety when it leaves a municipal treatment facility can become contaminated by lead leaching from service lines, connecting pipes and fixtures on its way to homes. 
  2. In the United States the EPA has set the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) for lead at zero. In other words, there is no safe level of lead in drinking water.
  3. Estimates are, on average, that lead in drinking water contributes between 10 and 20 percent of total lead exposure in young children. Symptoms such as reduced intelligence, impaired hearing and decreased growth are associated with blood levels as low as 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood.
  4. Point-of-Use (POU) water treatment products are considered to be the preferred method for lead removal since in many cases the plumbing, fittings and solder in a home or building may be contributing to the problem. Lead may be removed by POU reverse osmosis, filtration, or distillation.
  5. Not all reverse osmosis systems, filters and distillation units will remove lead. When selecting a particular device or system for lead reduction, be sure the product is certified for lead removal under NSF/ANSI Standard 53 (filters) NSF/ANSI Standard 58 (RO systems) or NSF/ANSI 62 (distillation) by an accredited third-party certifying body.  You can search for products certified for reducing lead in drinking water on WQA’s website.

The Water Quality Association provides water treatment education and opportunities to become certified water treatment professionals. Learn more here or reach out at education@wqa.org.

Get WQA’s Lead Fact Sheet.