Facts to Know about Lead in Drinking Water

Last Updated on December 17, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

The Flint Water Crisis increased people’s awareness of the harmful effects of lead. According to a report by USA Today, Flint wasn’t an uncommon occurrence. The investigation team identified roughly 2,000 water systems in all 50 states that offer water with high levels of lead.

Many homeowners, on the other hand, had to make a difficult choice about how their water was filtered and the risks of lead exposure. Read on to learn about how to filter lead from water.

How Lead Gets into Drinking Water

Lead usually gets into drinking water when plumbing material that contain lead corrode. Water that has low mineral content or high acidity has an especially corrosive effect on lead water pipes and fixtures. Even though today most water pipes are made of materials like copper, the risk of exposure to lead is still high because many homes constructed before 1986 still have lead components in their water delivery systems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control), children in 4 million American households are regularly exposed to lead-contaminated water. Moreover, a recent study from the EPA found that hundreds US of cities still have lead piping in their water supply systems and thus you may be exposed to lead even if you live in a new home that has a lead-free water delivery system.

Health Effects of Exposures to Lead in Drinking Water

Lead is toxic and can harm your health even if the level of exposure is low. Besides, lead bioaccumulates in the body with time.

Fetuses, infants, and young children are especially vulnerable to the effects of lead because the toxin negatively impacts their physical well-being and behavior even at low levels of exposure. In children, lead exposure can lead to:

  • Hyperactivity and Lower IQ
  • Learning and behavior problems
  • Stunted growth
  • Anemia

Hearing problems

Ingestion of lead, in some cases, can lead to coma, seizures, and death.

For pregnant women, exposure to lead can result in:

  • Premature birth
  • Diminished growth of the fetus

In adults, exposure to lead can lead to:

  • Decreased kidney function
  • Increased blood pressure, the incidence of hypertension, and cardiovascular effects
  • Reproductive problems

Best Water Filter for Lead

Now that you understand how Lead effects your body and enters your drinking water, let’s review the best options you have for you and your family:

Carbon Filtration Treatment

A GAC (granular activated carbon) filter is another proven way of removing lead from water, like this dual-stage system. Activated carbon filtration can also be used to eliminate odor-causing contaminants as well as to make water more palatable.

GAC is made using carbon-rich raw organic materials such as coal or coconut shells. To increase (activate) carbon’s surface area, the materials are heated in an oxygen-free environment. The activated carbon traps contaminants the water passes through a GAC-containing filter.

Reverse Osmosis Systems

reverse osmosis system installation

Reverse osmosis is an economical and simple way of eliminating toxins like lead from your drinking water. Reverse osmosis water filtering systems utilize the process of osmosis whereby the water flows from a highly concentrated solution to a less concentrated solution via a semi-permeable membrane that serves as a filter.  Along with the osmosis membrane, the systems may also include pre-filters as well as post-filters.

Reverse osmosis systems are not only highly effective, but they are also cost-effective, easy to maintain, and consume no energy.

Distillation Systems

Distillation systems remove contaminants by heating water till it evaporates and then channeling the vapor into a separate vessel where it condenses, leaving contaminants behind. Distillation systems can remove chemical contaminants such as lead.

Under the Sink Purifiers

Under-the-counter purifiers are cost-effective and easy to install. These purifiers can help you remove lead from your drinking water, especially if you do your research and choose the right filter. Your filter should be capable of handling the level of lead in your water. Most under-the-counter purifiers use granular activated carbon filters which are effective in removing lead.

Shower Head Filters

While showerhead filters function like the standard showerheads, they typically come with an inbuilt filtration system that removes impurities. It removes the contaminants before they can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin during bathing or washing.

How to Reduce the Risk of Lead in Drinking Water

  1. How long water sits in the pipes: The longer water sits in pipes, the higher the risk of lead contamination. CDC recommends that if your faucet has been used for more than six hours, you should run the water for about 2 minutes.
  2. The temperature of water: Hot water corrodes and dissolves more lead compared to cold water, so you should ideally get your drinking water while it’s cold and then heat it to reduce the risk of lead contamination. CDC warns against using hot tap water to mix baby formula or to make drinks and cereals.

How to Find Out Whether Water Contains Lead

You can’t see, smell, or taste lead in water, so the sure way of checking for lead in your water is to test the water. Tests are sold in home improvements stores for $10 to $20. Importantly, to determine the suitable components and size of your water purification system, you should assess the concentration and type of contaminants in your water as well as your average water use. Moreover, you should consult a professional.


These are some of the important facts to know about lead in drinking water. To ensure your water is lead free, invest in the best water filter for lead.


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Jason is a respected home and garden expert and a well-established figure in the digital media industry. He is the founder of KKMediaGroup.com, a leading online platform providing high-quality content on home improvement, DIY projects, gardening, and more. His passion for creating engaging, value-driven content has made KKMediaGroup.com a go-to resource for home and garden enthusiasts. In addition to his work with KKMediaGroup, Jason co-founded FarmFoodFamily.com, a website dedicated to offering practical advice and innovative ideas on farming, food, and family. His entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to sharing knowledge and expertise have played a significant role in the success of both platforms.