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Lead

Lead Bricks Lead has a bluish-grey appearance when exposed to air.

Lead is a natural element (number 82 on the Periodic Table) that is extremely toxic to humans. It is a potent neurotoxin that can also build up in bones and soft tissue over time.

It appears to be soft and easy to scratch, but lead is actually a very dense heavy metal. Because of its strength, lead is used in manufacturing shielding, projectiles (like bullets and fishing sinkers), weights, and various parts of construction and electronics. Lead was once used—but is now banned—to make paint, make-up, toys, gasoline, and plumbing.

Lead usually makes its way into our drinking water through the corrosion of lead pipes and plumbing. Since 1998, the Safe Drinking Water Act prohibits anyone from using pipe or plumbing that isn’t considered “lead-free”. Unfortunately, even “lead-free” pipes may contain up to 8% lead. This also doesn’t account for any lead pipes made before 1998 that have yet to be replaced.

Exposure to lead can cause severe damage to the kidneys, central nervous system, brain, reproductive system, and cardiovascular system. For infants and small children, lead can affect both physical and mental development, resulting in learning disorders, behavioral problems, and a delay in female puberty. In pregnant women, lead can disrupt proper fetal development.

Symptoms of lead poisoning include headaches, confusion, nausea, abdominal or chest pain, insomnia, and irritability. In humans, lead poisoning can also cause a bluish line to appear along the gums, known as “Burtons’ Line”. In extreme cases, it can cause seizures, coma, and death.

Lead Pipe Lead pipes used in ancient Rome.

If you have frequent leaks in your plumbing, stained dishes & laundry, or rust-colored water coming from your faucet, these could be signs of lead corrosion in your pipes.

To test the possible presence of lead in your home’s drinking water, you can use the WaterSafe Home Drinking Water Test for Lead. Or, you can kill eight birds with one stone by using the WaterSafe All-In-One Home Drinking Water Test Kit.

Refrigerator water filters that remove lead include: