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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, service lines, older plumbing and fixtures may potentially cause lead to get into a home’s drinking water. When shopping for faucets and plumbing, be sure to read the label to verify that the products are certified with the NSF/ANSI/CAN 61 certification for drinking water contact.
Lead in City Water Service Lines
You may want 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 Pipes and 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 5 parts er billion (ppb) in Canada to 15 ppb in the U.S. The World Health Organization and other public health organizations have concluded there is no safe level of lead in drinking water, and that even low concentrations can cause negative health effects, especially for infants and children. 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 water filter for reducing lead.
Water Filters for Home
If you want to reduce lead in your drinking water, make sure the system you choose is certified to NSF/ANSI standards for lead reduction. NSF-certified systems have been independently verified to be able to reduce lead from 150 ppb to 10 ppb or less (or 5 ppb for the updated standard requirements as indicated on the products Performance Test Data Sheet).
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*:
- Water pitchers with filters
- Faucet water filters
- Kitchen water filtration systems
- Reverse osmosis systems
- Countertop water filters (require electricity)
- Countertop water filtration system (connected to sink faucet)
- Refrigerator water filters
- Aftermarket refrigerator filters
- Integrated refrigerator filters
*Note, currently there are no whole house systems certified to reduce lead.