Lead In Drinking Water

Sources of Lead in Drinking Water

In recent years, many countries have adopted regulations that limit the use of lead in the manufacture of residential plumbing products. However, older water lines and fixtures may potentially cause lead to get into a home’s drinking water. When shopping for faucets and other plumbing fixture fittings, be sure to read the label to verify that the products are certified for low lead content with the NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 certification for drinking water contact.

Lead in Water Pipes

If you live in an older home, you can check to see if the line connecting your home to the public water system contains lead. If you are unable to locate this service line or identify its material, you may contact the local water department to:

  • Inspect the service line
  • Search records to identify the composition of your service lines
  • Inform you if city water lines in your area are known to contain lead

Lead in Faucets

Even if your home doesn’t contain a lead service line, you may still have unsafe levels of lead. This contamination can be caused by lead from fixtures like faucets and solder used to join pipes. Current public health lead limits range from 0.010 mg/L in Canada and Europe) to 0.015 mg/L in the U.S. Water testing can be helpful in determining these levels.

If older pipes or faucets cause your water lead concentrations to exceed local public health limits, you may want to consider having them replaced with certified ones. You may also consider purchasing certified bottled water or a certified lead water filter.

Water Filters for Home

While replacing lead service lines and old fixtures may be desirable, it isn't always possible, especially if you live in a multi-unit building or rent. Depending on the lead levels being detected, a lead water filter system may be a more practical alternative. There are many types of water purifiers. If you want to filter lead out of water, make sure the system you choose is certified to NSF/ANSI standards for lead reduction. Certified systems have been independently verified to be able to reduce lead from 0.150 mg/L to 0.010 mg/L or less.

If you have a private well and have high lead levels, the problem could be low pH. When pH levels drop below 7.0, water becomes acidic which can cause lead to leach from pipes and faucets. Acid neutralizing systems are generally used to correct this situation. By adding a certified pH adjustment chemical to the water to boost pH above 7.0, you can help the system reduce both lead and copper leaching.

If you do choose to use a water filter or reverse osmosis system, remember that most water treatment systems have replaceable filters or media and may also require regular maintenance service, so be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and replace filters at the recommended timing.

Lead Water Filter Systems – NSF Certified

In response to consumer concerns about lead in drinking water, we created a Consumer Guide to NSF Certified Lead Filtration Devices for Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water. This guide explains the NSF standards and how we verify a filter’s ability to reduce lead in drinking water. Products listed in the guide may also be certified to reduce additional water contaminants beyond lead.

NSF Certified Lead Filters by Type: