The Top 5 Signs of Lead in Water | Water Management Guide

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Lead is a common but harmful contaminant, identifiable by a handful of signs. These five signs are clear indicators of dangerous levels of lead in the water which, left untreated, can lead to serious long-term health effects.
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Got lead in your pipes? Your chances aren't small, and perhaps it's time to run a tap check. 

The EPA estimates that around 9 million U.S. homes and over 400,000 U.S. schools have traces of lead in water pipes. 

You've likely heard people speak on the dangers of lead pipes. However, many don't understand just how catastrophic the health effects are when left untreated. Given the severe toll, buildings and homeowners must learn how to spot signs of lead. 

Checking your water for lead is a vital part of water quality monitoring. Below we'll explain 5 common signs of lead poisoning, and the benefits of using IoT-powered water monitoring systems that attach to plumbing fixtures and send alerts and updates directly to building owners' cellphones. 

The Dangers of Lead Contamination

The U.S. The Health Department states that 15 micrograms per liter is the maximum ammount of lead concentration allowed in public drinking water. The EPA deems anything above this unfit to drink. However, while there are laws to protect and keep a safe level of lead in public water supplies, private wells are not subject to mandatory tests. 

Left untreated, the effects of lead poisoning can lead to serious long-term effects, which include:

  • Kidney/Liver Failure
  • Infertility
  • Severe Nervous System Damages
  • Severe brain Damage
  • Heightened Blood Pressure

The struggle with lead is a major global issue, as around 1 million people die every year from lead poisoning. 

The responsibility lies on home and building owners to know how to spot symptoms and run lead tests on their property's tap water to keep occupants safe. 

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Most Common Lead Poisoning Symptoms

Drinking or cooking with lead-contaminated water for an extended period usually leads to certain symptoms.

The most common symptoms of lead poisoning include: 

  • Headaches
  • Pain in the abdominal region
  • Struggle to focus 
  • Weight and appetite loss
  • Irritability

However, certain lead exposure symptoms are unique to prenatal, newborn, and developing children. These symptoms include:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Slow growth development

If those in your home or building experience any of these symptoms without explanation, high traces of lead could be present in the plumbing. However, even without evident health complications, there are other common signs of lead exposure. 

The Key Signs of Lead In Water

There are a few key signs to help identify and address the presence of lead in your water supply. 

If any of these signs are present, exercise extreme caution. Even one of these signs single one could indicate dangerous amounts of lead. 

1. Corrosion of Pipes and Plumbing

Check your sink, faucets, and all exposed pipes. Look for corrosion or any dull greyish color, which could signify lead corrode. 

Lead corrode is one of the most common causes of water pollution, where flakes from the pipe chip off and enter faucets, plumbing pipes, and fixtures. If you live in an old building or home, or an area with highly acidic water, prioritize getting a water test to check for traces of lead in the service lines. 

2. Discoloration of Water

When collecting water samples to check for lead traces always analyze the color. If it appears rusty or cloudy, it could indicate elevated levels of lead.

Always look for any brownish or reddish hue. If you see this coloration, keep your water running to see if it persists. Also, run both cold and hot water, as this might indicate which pipes contain lead that's seeping into the water supply. 

3. Metallic Taste in Water

Water often carries many minerals and metals, including copper, zinc, iron, and lead.

If you experience a metallic taste in your water, immediately run an at-home test or call your water supplier to have them run a test.

Always perform tests on multiple samples, both hot and cold water, to get a more precise understanding of where the metallic taste originates from. 

4. Particles in Water

Sometimes, lead is visible to the human eye, and you can see actual particles in your water for cooking or drinking. If you see inexplicable particles or flakes in your water, take it as an urgent sign to test for lead. However, remember that lead particles are often too small to see, and you must be more thorough than a sight test. 

5. Slow Water Flow and Pressure Issues

As stated earlier, lead can corrode pipes. When corrosion builds up, it causes pipes to lose water pressure and flow strength. Test your water to see if the pressure is lower than normal. If it is, run a test to see if it's due to lead buildup. 

Monitor, Visualize, Analyze, and Control Water With Ease

Conducting a lead test on indoor pipes can be accomplished in many ways. However, even if you don't have significant traces of lead now, fixtures, faucets, pipes, and other plumbing materials can corrode later on and cause severe health risks. 

The most effective way to ensure your water for drinking, cooking, and showering is safe is to install a top-notch system of IoT sensors to act as a constant water bodyguard. 

Attune's IoT platform leads the market as one of the most efficient, user-friendly, and holistic tools for conducting lead tests. Our sensors connect directly to existing systems, checking for contamination while promoting water and energy sustainability that saves building owners up to thousands per year. 

The installation process is effortless, taking a matter of hours. Simply connect our sensors to your plumbing and water fixtures, and it automatically gathers test data, checking for lead. From there, all data feeds through the cloud-based platform where building managers can access action-oriented insights as they monitor and maintain water quality. 

Promote conservation and do your part to prevent water poisoning today by considering investing in Attune's revolutionary IoT solution. Learn more about how it works here, or sign up for a free demo today. 




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