Lead Pipes: Health Consequences, History, & How to Replace

Lead Pipes: Health Consequences, History, & How To Replace

Key takeaways:

  • Lead pipes were once a widely used material for plumbing, but their toxicity led to their decline in popularity.
  • Lead toxicity can cause various health problems, especially in children and pregnant women.
  • If you think your house has lead water or you have been exposed to lead, visit a doctor immediately.
  • You can check for lead pipes in your home by examining the outside water pipe coming into your house. If it is grey or does not magnetize, there is a chance it is made of lead.
  • Hiring a professional plumber to replace lead pipes, such as Bill’s Plumbing & Sewer, is advisable.

Finding lead in your home may be frightening, especially because lead pipes are no longer used in homes. Understanding how to detect lead pipes hidden beneath your walls or ceiling is critical to safeguard your family’s health. If you’re concerned about the possibility of lead in your home, there are a few things you can do to check for its presence. One way to check for lead is to look at your home’s plumbing fixtures. If your home was built before 1986, there is a chance that it has lead pipes. Lead pipes are often dull gray and softer than other types of pipes, so that they can be easily scratched.

History Of Lead:

Lead has been used in the United States since colonial times. It was originally used for pipes and pottery. Lead is still used in many industries, including construction, batteries, and bullets. It is suitable for creating pipes in some ways since it is stable and easily bendable.

In the 1700s, lead was used to make white paint. This led to the widespread use of lead-based paints in homes and buildings. By the early 1900s, it was known that lead paint was poisonous. However, lead paint continued to be used in many homes and buildings until it was banned in 1978.

Use Of Lead Pipes in the USA:

The first plumbing system in the US was established in 1829 and quickly became a blueprint for commercial and residential facilities across the United States. Since lead pipes are stable, sturdy, and pliable, they have been utilized since the inception of plumbing. This form of pipe has become a favorite candidate for the construction of plumbing systems because of its adaptability and low cost.

However, In the late 1800s, it was discovered to be a source of lead poisoning. According to Richard Rabin, MSPH, an occupational and environmental health activist, by 1900, more than 70% of communities with 30,000 or more population were employing lead-based goods for water conveyance. Lead pipe are also easily bendable, allowing pipes to be molded to fit the shapes of existing buildings or other structures.

Lead poisoning was initially noticed in big cities such as New York and Boston, where indoor plumbing and lead service pipes — conduits for bringing water from the street main into a building — led to increased occurrences. Although the first health concerns were raised in 1859, there was no organized campaign to restrict or regulate lead plumbing until the 1920s.

Health Consequences of Lead:

It is a toxic metal that can enter your body through drinking water, breathing, or skin contact. When lead enters the body, it causes damage to your nervous system, brain, kidneys, and reproductive system.

Lead poisoning has varying effects on different age groups. Lead exposure in children can severely affect their nervous system development, resulting in reduced IQ, learning impairments, delayed growth, anemia, behavioral disorders, and hearing impairment. Adults exposed to lead water pipes may develop high blood pressure or hypertension, renal failure, and reproductive problems. Lead toxicity in pregnant women may disrupt fetal development and result in premature growth.

Symptoms of lead poisoning include stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, anemia, weight loss, irritability, memory loss, muscle weakness, paralysis, and convulsions. If you believe you have been contaminated by lead, you should visit a doctor immediately so that you may be treated. A safe amount of lead exposure does not exist. Even modest amounts of lead exposure can be harmful to one’s health.

Lead Use Regulations:

In 1992, the United States Environmental Protection Agency adopted a lead treatment technology rule to address issues connected with lead contamination caused by corrosive water. The Lead and Copper Rule, which requires frequent water monitoring and the replacement of lead service lines, must be followed by water utilities. These regulations were last updated in 2007. State governments may have tighter drinking water regulations than the EPA. The guidelines are only applicable to public water systems.

How To Check That Your Home Has Lead Pipes?

Even though the 1986 Safe Water Drinking Act outlawed the use of lead in new plumbing materials, lead may still be discovered in pipes and water. If your home was constructed before 1986, lead pipes might be hidden under your walls or flooring. You should examine your house’s pipes for lead unless you know they were renovated after 1986.

If the water pipe going into your home from the outside is grey, a magnet won’t cling to it, or when you scrape the pipe with a coin, it leaves a glossy silvery imprint; you may have a lead service line. If you have lead service pipes, your local water provider may have records or be able to do an in-home examination.

The only way to safeguard your health is to replace these lead pipes with new copper ones.

Lead Pipes: Health Consequences, History, & How to Replace

How To Replace Your Lead Pipes?

You can replace your lead pipes yourself or hire a professional plumber to do it for you. Most plumbers will charge by the hour for this service. The cost will vary depending on how many pipes need to be replaced and how difficult it is to access them. You may also need to pay for a permit from your local government before you can begin work on your plumbing system.

Call Bill’s Plumbing & Sewer if you need to hire a plumber to examine your sewage and water lines. We replace your water service lines entirely, so you have a continuous supply of lead-free water. We will repair deteriorating pipes behind your walls with Type-K copper pipes. We provide water pipe and plumbing repair services to Morton Grove residents. We also offer maintenance for inefficient sump pumps and water heaters.

Get your project estimate today!


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