There are several ways in which old pipes can contaminate water. Here, we will address several of the health risks that can come from older pipes, as well as how to tell if you are at risk of water contamination.
First off, most water contamination comes from lead elements in the pipes. Lead is dangerous because it is a toxic metal that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. The degree to which lead is dangerous depends on how much exposure a person receives, although young children and pregnant women are particularly at risk. Lead can cause subtle biochemical changes at lower exposure levels, all the way up to severe neurological effects and possibly death at higher exposure levels. Sources of lead in drinking water can include fittings or faucets made from brass, which contains lead, a water system with lead pipes, or copper pipes with soldering. This is especially true if your house is less than five years old, if you have naturally soft water, or if water frequently sits in the pipes over many hours.
You can reduce your chances of contamination by using only cold water for consumption, such as for drinking, cooking, and particularly for mixing baby formula. Hot water picks up lead more easily, and thus poses a greater risk. Most of the lead comes from the plumbing in the house itself, as opposed to the municipal water supply. You can also reduce your risk of contamination by flushing your pipes before drinking, especially if water sits in pipes for hours at a time. If water has not been used in a pipe for over six hours, you can flush the cold water pipes by running the water until it is as cold as it can get. This typically takes between five and thirty seconds, but can take longer if no heavy water use has occurred, such as showers or toilet flushing. The longer water sits in pipes, the more lead it can contain.
Protecting your young children and yourself from lead toxins is important because it can adversely affect health. By following the guidelines outlined above, you can significantly reduce your chances of drinking contaminated water, especially if your Toronto home has risk factors.
Mister Plumber in East York, Toronto is a repiping company, specializing in the replacement of aging pipes or pipes made from polybutylene. The company has a proven method for replacing pipes that is not only cost effective, but minimizes the disruption to occupants’ lives.