Many people have questions about lead poison from water sources as a result of the recent troubles that the residents of Flint, Michigan have experienced. Below are a few frequently asked questions concerning lead poisoning from water.
Q: What is lead poisoning, and why is it bad?
A: While lead is a naturally occurring metal that has a lot of practical uses in industry, lead is very harmful if it gets into the human body. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consumption of lead can cause health issues, especially when the concentration of lead in blood becomes very high. When too much lead accumulates in the blood, it can cause toxic effects, and a person can become poisoned. People who are experiencing lead poisoning may suffer a number of symptoms such as vomiting, constipation, weight loss, hair loss, rashes, stomach pain, but in some cases there is no indication that a person is suffering from lead poisoning. Lead poisoning in children is particularly dangerous. When children suffer from lead poisoning, they can experience neurological problems, behavioral issues, learning difficulties and reduced cognition.
Q: If you bathe or shower in lead contaminated water will you get lead poisoning?
A: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead contaminated water is safe enough to bathe or shower in if the lead levels are relatively low because the body only absorbs a tiny amount of lead through the skin. Lead poisoning occurs when water that is contaminated with lead is ingested into the body. Lead in the water poses less of a risk if the exposure to the water is on the skin, rather than if the water is consumed.
Q: How can you get your water tested for lead?
A: There are certified lead testing laboratories where you can send water samples from your home for testing. You can look up certified water testing laboratories for your state online. When performing a water test, water samples need to be taken from every water source in and around your home to determine where you may have a lead problem. For instance, if the water sample from your kitchen is free of lead, but the water sample from your bathroom has lead in it, you know that your lead leaching problem is somewhere between the main water line to your home and the bathroom.
Q: What type of laws are in place to protect Americans from lead poisoning from their water?
A: There are a number of federal laws that have been passed, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule, that are meant to protect Americans from being exposed to lead through their drinking water. These laws impose rules regarding the treatment and cleanliness standards that state and local governments are required to follow when providing water to citizens.