How does lead get into the water?

  • Lead can enter drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures. In homes with lead pipes that connect the home to the water main, also known as lead services lines, these pipes are typically the most significant source of lead in the water.  Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes built before 1986.  Among homes without lead service lines, the most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and plumbing with lead solder.

Health Effects of Exposures to Lead in Drinking Water

  • The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to determine the level of contaminants in drinking water at which no adverse health effects are likely to occur with an adequate margin of safety. These non-enforceable health goals, based solely on possible health risks, are called maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs). EPA has set the maximum contaminant level goal for lead in drinking water at zero because lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels. Lead is persistent, and it can bio-accumulate in the body over time.


Health Effects of Exposures to Lead in Drinking Water in children!

  • Young children, infants, and fetuses are particularly vulnerable to lead because the physical and behavioral effects of lead occur at lower exposure levels in children than in adults. A dose of lead that would have little effect on an adult can have a significant effect on a child. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that public health actions be initiated when the level of lead in a child’s blood is 5 micrograms per deciliter (Mg/dL) or more.
  • It is important to recognize all the ways a child can be exposed to lead. Children are exposed to lead in paint, dust, soil, air, and food, as well as drinking water. If the level of lead in a child’s blood is at or above the CDC action level of 5 micrograms per deciliter, it may be due to lead exposures from a combination of sources. EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent or more of a person’s total exposure to lead. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 percent to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water. Lead can also be transmitted through breast milk.
  • Even low levels of lead in the blood of children can result in:
  • Behavior and learning problems
  • Lower IQ and hyperactivity
  • Slowed growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Anemia
  • In rare cases, ingestion of lead can cause seizures, coma and even death.

Health Effects of Exposures to Lead in Drinking Water in Pregnant Women!

  • Lead can accumulate in our bodies over time, where it is stored in bones along with calcium. During pregnancy, lead is released from bones as maternal calcium and is used to help form the bones of the fetus. This is particularly true if a woman does not have enough dietary calcium. Lead can also cross the placental barrier exposing the fetus to lead. This can result in serious effects to the mother and her developing fetus, including:
  • Reduced growth of the fetus
  • Premature birth

Did you know that Flint Michigan doesn’t even rank the most dangerous lead hotspots in America?

  • In a fifteen-block area in St. Joseph, MO at least 120 small children have been poisoned since 2010, including a pediatrician’s children.
  • Reuters found nearly 3,000 areas with recently recorded lead poisoning rates at least double those in Flint during the peak of that city’s contamination crisis.
  • Warren, Pennsylvania, a town on the Allegheny River where 36 percent of children tested had high lead levels.
  • In one zip code on Goat Island, Texas, where a quarter of tests showed poisoning.
  • In some pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland and Philadelphia, where lead poisoning has spanned generations, the rate of elevated tests over the last decade was 40-50 percent.
  • In Milwaukee last year, 11.5 percent of children tested had elevated lead.

How Lead Poisoning Affects Dogs and Cats

  • The gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system are affected by lead poisoning. Lead can be inhaled or ingested and once in the body is absorbed into the blood where it attaches to red blood cells. Lead poisoning can affect physical and mental development, cause neurological problems, learning difficulties and other health concerns in young children and young pets. Unborn babies, both human and animal, are at risk because lead inhibits proper development of the brain. Red blood cells are affected, which can lead to anemia, and when the amount of lead in the blood becomes high enough, the nervous system is affected.

Symptoms of Lead Poisoning in Pets

  • Symptoms in pets can include loss of appetite, stumbling, problems with vision, abdominal pain, changes in behavior, head pressing, anxiety, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors and seizures. Pets cans also suffer from an enlargement of the esophagus, called megaesophagus, that causes them to regurgitate. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, call your vet immediately.