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Water Pipes

December 11, 2012

Story at-a-glance

  • Millions of water pipes known as service lines are still made from lead, and could be carrying contaminated water into your home on a daily basis.
  • While the government has attempted to remedy this problem with pipe replacements, the solution has backfired; in addition to not removing all of the lead pipes, the replacement process may actually increase the health risks by elevating water lead levels.
  • You may or may not receive warning that a partial pipe replacement in your area could temporarily increase your water’s lead levels and your health risks; while utilities are supposed to let you know, many do not.
  • Your safest and most economical choice to get lead out of your water is to make sure it is filtered when it comes out of your tap, or, alternatively, when it comes into your home. Large carbon filters and a whole house water filtration system will remove dangerous levels of lead, along with the host of other contaminants, including over 500 toxic disinfectant by-products, that are often present in drinking water.

By Dr. Mercola

Lead is one of the most well characterized toxins known to  harm and damage your brain and nervous system. It is so toxic that it has  been banned in gasoline and children's toys, and lead paint hasn't been in use  since 1978.

If you purchase a home that contains lead paint, the  seller is required to disclose this because of the serious risks it can pose to  your family's health if lead-containing paint chips or paint dust are inhaled  or ingested...

You may think we have already legislated this problem  away, but millions of water pipes known as service lines are still made  from lead, and could be carrying contaminated water into your home on a daily  basis.

While the government has attempted to remedy this problem  with replacements, the solution has backfired; in addition to not removing all  of the lead pipes, the replacement process may actually increase the  health risks...

Your Water May Enter Your Home Via Lead Pipes

When your water leaves a treatment plant, it is  transported into large pipes, or mains, that run under your city's streets.  These are typically made of cast iron or concrete. The problem occurs when the  water flows into smaller pipes known as service lines, which carry the water  directly to your home.

An estimated 3.3 to 6.4 million service lines in the  United States are made out of lead, and while they are found across the  country, they're especially common in older neighborhoods in the Midwest and  Northeast. This, of course, makes it very likely that your home's tap water is  being contaminated by this poison virtually 24/7.

According to Investigative Reporting Workshop:1

"...fragments of corroded  lead [from lead service lines] can chip off and be swept into tap water.  Additional lead can also get in as the water runs across lead-soldered joints  or comes into contact with brass or bronze fixtures. Until recently, such  hardware was allowed to be advertised as 'lead-free,' even if it contained up  to 8 percent lead. A federal law reducing the acceptable amount of lead in  these plumbing fixtures to .25 percent will take effect in 2014, although  Vermont and California have already adopted such rules."

So Why Aren't These Lead Pipes Being Replaced?

The U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did initially require water utility companies  to test homes for lead, and if the levels were elevated they would then have to  reduce the lead contamination or replace a percentage of their lead service  lines each year until the lead levels fell into acceptable ranges.

This was in 1991  (known as the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule). But the water companies fought back,  and were able to derail the plan. The EPA amended the rule in 2000 to allow  water companies to perform partial pipe replacements, which basically would  replace the pipe running from the water main to a home's property line. If the  rest of the line were to be replaced, it would be on the property owner's own  dime.

Partial Pipe Replacements May Raise the Amount of Lead in Your Water – With No Warning

There have been at least 38,000 partial pipe replacements  completed or planned in the United States (which would impact about 1.4 million  people). There are many more voluntary replacements that are also completed  during maintenance or emergency repairs. This may sound like a good thing, but  the technique appears to be increasing – not decreasing -- water lead levels,  at least initially. Investigative Reporting Workshop explained:

"Partial pipe  replacements can physically shake loose lead fragments that have built up and  laid dormant inside the pipe, pushing them into the homeowners' water, and  spiking the lead levels, even where they previously were not high.

In addition, the type of  partial replacement that joins old lead pipes to new copper ones, using brass  fittings, 'spurs galvanic corrosion that can dramatically increase the amount  of lead released into drinking water supplies,' according to research from  Washington University. Similar findings have been published by researchers at  the Virginia Tech and elsewhere."

You may or may not receive warning that a partial pipe  replacement in your area could temporarily increase your water's lead levels;  while utilities are supposed to let you know, an Investigative Reporting  Workshop survey found that only one-third of notifications actually mentioned  the potential for lead increase or health risks. As noted by the featured  article1:

"...the Centers for  Disease Control and Prevention completed a study in 2010 noting that children  living in houses in Washington, D.C., where partial pipe replacements were  carried out were three times as likely to have elevated levels of lead in their  blood as children living in houses in which the old lead service lines remained  undisturbed, or were not made of lead."

Are Water Utilities "Gaming the System"?

You probably assume that if your water contains dangerous  levels of lead, you'll be notified immediately, but this is not always the  case. Investigations by Marc Edwards, a professor of civil and environmental  engineering at Virginia Tech, have revealed some water utilities may be  "gaming the system" by cherry-picking which houses it tests in order  to keep any lead problems hidden. In another tactic, water companies are  "gifting" lead service lines to homeowners, and saying they no longer  have any responsibility for the pipes. Replacing lead service lines on your  property can cost thousands of dollars, and may increase lead levels during,  and after, the replacement.

The Health Risks of Lead

Lead is dangerous to both children and adults, and is  linked to the following health problems:

For Pregnant Women:

  1. Miscarriages
  2. Premature births or low birth weight
  3. Brain damage, decreased mental abilities and  learning difficulties
  4. Reduced growth in young children

For Children:

Damage to the brain and nervous system Behavior and learning problems, such as hyperactivity Slowed growth Hearing problems
Headaches Anemia Seizures Coma and even death

For Adults:

Hearing and vision impairment Reproductive problems (in both men and women) High blood pressure and hypertension Nerve disorders
Memory and concentration problems Poor muscle coordination Muscle and joint pain  

Mercury Also Continues to be Spewed Into Great Lakes

Just as you probably assumed lead had long been removed  from water supplies, you might also be unaware that mercury – a known poison to  your brain, just like lead – is still being released into the environment. A  report by the Natural Resources Defense Council revealed that in the Great  Lakes region alone, 144 coal-fired power plants pump more than 13,000 pounds of  mercury into the air every year,2  contributing to dangerous air pollution and contaminated seafood. The report  noted:

"In humans, [mercury] can  harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system. Young children and  developing fetuses are most at risk from the effects of mercury, which can damage  their brains."

The EPA recently introduced a standard that would require  power plants to cut mercury emissions by 90 percent,3  a move they say will "avert up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart  attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.”4 Unfortunately, no such rule has yet been established for the ongoing problem of  lead in drinking water.

Water Purification Chemicals Pose Health Risks, Too

A new study in the American  College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology5 found that pesticides and chemicals  used to chlorinate water are associated with allergies. Higher levels of  dichlorophenols in your body, as measured in your urine,  correlate with increased risk of food allergies.6, 7 Dichlorophenols are chlorine-containing chemicals present in insect and weed  control products, as well as being used by water chlorination plants.

Food allergies are on the rise, the most common being  milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish. Symptoms can  range from a mild rash to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. According to  the CDC, food allergy rates increased by 18 percent between 1997 and 20076.

Tap water isn’t the only source of dichlorophenol  exposure. You are also exposed to this chemical by consuming pesticide-treated  fruits and vegetables. Just remember that your exposure is cumulative, so the more  sources of chemical exposure you have, the higher your risk of adverse effects.

What Can You Do About Lead in Your Drinking Water?

You cannot control the municipal service pipes that carry  your water, and you may not have the resources to replace lead pipes on your  property. Further, the current technique for removal will make the problem  worse before it gets better, and you may not be notified if these partial pipe  replacements are taking place in your area. So what are your  options? Ideally it would be best to get the majority of your water from a  private well. Obviously this isn't an option for many, depending on where you  live.

Fortunately Daniel Vitalis has done a great service and  created a phenomenal web site, FindaSpring.com,  where you can identify local springs that are close to you. There is certainly  a hassle factor involved, but if you get the water from a spring, the charge is  quite minimal and the only costs are your time and gas to go to and back from  the spring. This is clearly the best choice if you have a local spring and the  time.

Your safest and most economical choice if you don't have  access to a clean spring or private well is to make sure your water is filtered  when it comes out of your tap, or, alternatively, when it comes into your home.  Many people will have carbon water filters on their taps even if they have a  whole house filter, and this is indeed a good idea. The reason for this is  because the internal house pipes could release lead even after being filtered  through the whole house, so ideally, you may want to have both. Large  carbon filters and a whole house water filtration system will remove dangerous  levels of lead, along with the host of other contaminants, including over 500  toxic disinfectant by-products, that are often present in drinking  water. In addition, if you know you have lead pipes, and especially if you  haven't installed a filter, the EPA8 also recommends you:

  • Use cold  water for drinking or cooking. Never cook or mix infant formula using hot water  from the tap.
  • Make it  a practice to run the water at each tap before use.
  • Do not  consume water that has sat in your home's plumbing for more than six hours.  First, make sure to run the water until you feel the temperature change before  cooking, drinking, or brushing your teeth, unless otherwise instructed by your  utility.
  • If you  use a filter, be sure you get one that is certified to remove lead by the NSF  International.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/11/water...

Views: 83

Tags: FindaSpring.com, Lead, Problem, Still, Taps:, Toxic, cook, drink, fluoride, health, More…is, mercury, pipes, poison, risk, the, water

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