Lead has been found in the water of homes in Columbus, Wisconsin. Since many residents may not know if their water is contaminated, it could be risky to consume.
Houses built before 1950 are more likely to have lead pipes; houses constructed before 1984 are likely to have lead solder, a metal or alloy that melts at a low temperature. Lead enters water once it is in contact with plumbing for several hours, “leaching” into the water and making it hazardous to consume.
If you consume too much lead, it can affect your kidneys and brain. It can also interfere with the production of red blood cells. Infants, young children, and pregnant women are most at risk. Research has shown that lead can lower the IQ of small children, and lead exposure to pregnant women may also affect a fetus’s brain development. Also, since lead remains in the bones, it can be dangerous for many years.
If a faucet has not been used for six hours, running water from the tap and flushing the tap can help reduce lead exposure. Flushing the tap means running cold, not hot, water until it is noticeably cold in 15 to 30 seconds. If your house was made with copper pipe but has lead solder, contact the plumber to get it changed. You can tell it is lead solder if it looks dull but when scratched with a key, appears shiny.
Exposure to lead can be very dangerous and costly. If you live in Columbus and suspect you have lead in your water, call Columbus Water and Light at 920-623-5912, and they will check what water service you have.
[Sources: Columbus Water and Light; Madison.com]