One of the most awful and dangerous water problems that can occur in a community is that the water supply becomes contaminated by lead. This can leave the water unsafe to drink and use for cooking, leaving many people without safe and affordable drinking water. Lead poisoning happens when water is contaminated with lead, and people drink the contaminated water. Lead poisoning is unsafe for anyone, but can have particularly significant health consequences on children and pregnant women, according to the World Health Organization.
What Does Lead Exposure Do To A Human?
Lead, in and of itself is not necessarily harmful. However, when lead gets into the human body, it can cause serious health problems. Lead has no known biological benefit for humans, and when too much lead gets into the body, it accumulates in the blood and the bones and can impact a number of vital systems; too much exposure to lead can cause the body to shut down. Most commonly, lead poisoning affects the neurological system, especially in children. Lead poisoning can cause children to suffer behavioral problems, learning disabilities and diminished mental capacity. Similarly, pregnant women who are poisoned by lead can transmit the lead to their unborn child. Fetuses are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of lead.
Lead Poisoning From Consumption of Water Contaminated by Lead
A majority of lead poisoning is the result of ingesting lead, typically through water consumption. Water that has been contaminated with lead, even at low levels such as fifteen parts per billion parts of water, can be hazardous to one’s health. The contaminated water can be drunk or consumed through food when water was used in cooking.
Lead poisoning generally does not occur as a result of lead being absorbed through the skin. As such, when there are low levels of lead in shower or bath water, the water is usually safe to wash in. However, it is not recommended by international and U.S. health agencies to shower or bathe in water that has high levels of lead in it.
Water that is contaminated with lead is either contaminated at its source, i.e., the lake, reservoir or river where the water comes from, or is contaminated during transmission to the home through pipes that are corroded or in poor condition. Another potential source of lead is from lead-containing ceramics that are used as food containers or cookware.
Can Water Filters Protect People From Lead Exposure?
Certain water filters are certified to filter out lead in water. But it is important to know that lead can take two forms in water. In one form, the lead forms solid precipitates, or tiny granules. These granules might not be visible, but they exist in a solid form. Most water filters can filter out granulated lead in water. The other form of lead in water is dissolved lead. Akin to sugar that is dissolved in water, lead that is dissolved in water is very small, and only filters that are specifically designed to filter out dissolved lead should be used.