Published: February 12, 2016

    WQA Releases Responses to FAQ on Lead in Water

    Recently, the Flint, Michigan water crisis has dominated headlines and been a point of serious contention. News sources across the country report on the ongoing crisis, which has culminated in reports of lead contamination in Flint’s drinking water. The highly elevated levels of lead are cause for serious health concerns, and citizens in the area are filing lawsuits against the city after Flint changed its source of drinking water from Detroit Water and Sewage Department water to the Flint River. Though the change occurred in 2014, the grave health concerns have come to light after a series of tests were administered on local drinking water.

    To inform the general public about the truths and exaggerations circulating in news stories regarding the water issue in Flint, an Illinois-based non-profit organization, the Water Quality Association, has released helpful information regarding lead content in the drinking water of Flint. Below are paraphrased questions and answers.

    What are potential health effects of lead in our drinking water?

    Possible signs of lead poisoning include irritability, weight loss, vomiting, constipation, and stomach pain, though often there are no initial signs. Even short-term lead exposure puts pregnant women and young children at severe risk of health problems including neurobehavioral deficits and reduced cognitive behavior in children. Any lead present in the blood of children is dangerous.

    Can I use a Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) meter to detect lead in my drinking water?

    No, TDS meters cannot specifically measure lead, they only detect conductivity related to the combined concentrated minerals, salts, and metals in the water. Most samples of tap water contain 350 parts per million (ppm) of TDS, which is not in general a cause for concern. Lead concentration within that measurement is too small to be accurately detected with a TDS meter.

    Where should I get my drinking water tested?

    A water sample should be taken from each point of use in your home and tested at a certified testing laboratory. As water conditions change, test your water before installing a treatment product. The reported levels of lead in the drinking water in Flint are higher than the conditions under which some filter manufacturers recommend replacement. Visit here for a list of certified testing labs in Michigan.

    Where do I find products that reduce lead in my drinking water?

    For certifiers you can trust, be sure to check out WQA’s Product Certification Program, NSF International, International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials, and Underwriters Laboratory. You’ll find product listings under each certifier. Simply click here for a list of products certified by WQA to reduce lead concentration. Visit wqa.org for general contact information of manufacturers of certified filters and treatment products.

    It’s vital to always filter your drinking water to reduce contaminants and live a healthier lifestyle. Consider installing a countertop drinking filter, or reverse osmosis to reduce lead for cleaner, purer water in your home day after day.