Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead can be found in air, soil, dust, pottery, food and water.
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The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978.
Although the main sources of exposure to lead are ingesting paint chips and inhaling dust, lead also can be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10 to 20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.
Lead can cause a variety of adverse health effects when people are exposed to it. These effects may include increases in the blood pressure of some adults; delays in normal physical and mental development in babies and young children; and, deficits in the attention span, hearing, and learning abilities of children.
Lead is rarely found naturally in our source water or in the treated water flowing through the distribution system. More commonly, lead dissolves into water over time through corrosion—a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Lead can dissolve into water from pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets (brass) and fittings. The amount of lead in your water depends on the types and amounts of minerals in the water, how long the water stays in the pipes, the water’s alkalinity, corrosivity, pH and water temperature.
The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency defines high-risk homes as follows:
Older brass fixtures, such as faucets, valves and fittings, also may contain lead.
In 1986, Congress enacted the “lead ban,” which stated that not only public water systems, but also anyone else who intends to install or repair drinking water plumbing connected to a public water system, must use “lead-free materials.” As a result, homes built in or after 1988 are far less likely to have lead solder.
If you’re concerned your home plumbing may contain lead pipes or if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water), you may want to have your water tested by a state-certified laboratory. Since you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only way to confirm if lead is present in your drinking water.
A list of certified laboratories is available on the TCEQ website. Contact labs directly for information on cost and sampling bottles.
All lead test results must be reported to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Service line ownership is shared. Lead services lines on a customer’s property are not part of the public water system and are the responsibility of the property owner.
The utility owns the meter and the service line running from the water main to the meter. The private ownership begins with the line exiting the meter.
City of Rosenberg strongly advises that you contact a licensed plumber for work on your service line, or to determine if you have lead in your private plumbing components.