Prior to the 1950s, homes in Toronto and across Canada were supplied with water by water-service pipes that were made of lead. Even after that, lead was still commonly used to solder pipes together up until the 1990s. Lead can also be found in certain fixtures such as faucets and valves that are made out of leaded-brass. Any water that passes through these pipes or fixtures can accumulate a concentration of lead within it.
This poses serious health risks to anyone who drinks water that has been contaminated by lead.
Water quality test have shown that thousands of homes in Toronto still have elevated levels of lead in their drinking water. This is a troubling fact from a public health perspective and it could be having adverse effects on residents without them even realizing.
Risks from Lead Exposure in Drinking Water
Exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water can have harmful effects on children, pregnant women, and even full-grown adults. The effects can vary depending on the level of exposure and on the person that is exposed to the contaminated water. Drinking water with elevated levels of lead causes lead to accumulate in the bloodstream and this can impact a person’s health relative to their body size.
Some of the harmful health effects of drinking lead-contaminated water can include:
- Behavior and Development Problems
- Decreased IQ Levels
- Delayed Growth
- Hearing Issues
In more extreme cases, exposure to high levels of lead can lead to seizures, comas, and even death in children.
- Reduced Development of the Fetus
- Premature Births
Lead can accumulate in a mother’s body over time and this can be harmful to a fetus during its development. It is also possible to transmit lead through breast milk.
- Cardiovascular Problems
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Reduced Kidney Functions
- Reproductive Issues
Exposure to lead has also been linked with carcinogenic effects in humans and could potentially cause cancer, even in full-grown adults.
How to Prevent Lead Exposure
Due to the harmful effects of water contaminated with lead, it is recommended to avoid exposure as much as possible. The main source of lead contamination in most homes is from old lead pipes and fixtures within the plumbing system. Any water that passes through a lead pipe will accumulate higher levels of the substance than is safe for human consumption.
This means that in order to eliminate the risk of lead contamination, it is necessary to replace any old pipes or fixtures with new modern materials that are totally lead-free. An experienced plumber such as those found on http://www.misterplumber.ca, who is knowledgeable about the best ways to replace a potentially harmful plumbing system, is the best option for doing this.
How to Detect Elevated Levels of Lead in Drinking Water
If you live in a home in Toronto that was built before the 1950s, it is very likely that the plumbing system contains pipes that are made of lead. Houses that were built before the 1990s are likely to contain lead soldering at many points throughout a plumbing system.
If you are unsure about the potential presence of lead in your drinking water, there are two common methods of determining this:
Water Quality Test
A water quality test can be conducted on the drinking water in a home to determine if it is safe to drink or if it contains any potentially harmful substances or chemicals.
A reliable plumber can be called to make an inspection on a plumbing system. This will be able to determine if there are any lead pipes or fixtures present that should be replaced.