For decades now, people have known that ingesting lead is a very bad thing.
But while we’ve learned about the dangers of exposure from lead paint and dust, have you considered your tap water as a potential source? The news stories coming out of Flint, Michigan have definitely put a spotlight on the issue. If you live in a home with a lead service line -- the pipe that runs from the water main to the home -- you and your family may be at risk. That’s because lead can dissolve into the water running through the pipe and end up at your tap.
But how do you know if you have a lead service line in the first place? Well, if your home is not very old, it’s highly unlikely. But to know for sure, consider hiring a licensed plumber to find out. And if you discover your service line is made of lead, talk to the plumber and your water utility about options for replacing it.
If you prefer to check the service line yourself, you can typically find it either by entering the home in the basement or a crawl space. Lead services lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft. They can be identified by carefully scratching them with a key or coin. If the pipe is made of lead, the area you've scratched will turn a bright silver color. (Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument, and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe.)
If you do have a lead service line, you may want to have your water tested at a certified laboratory. Check with your utility to find one.
Most importantly, if you find out you do have a lead service line, look into getting it replace swiftly and completely.
We have more information available on on our Lead In Water webpage.