Lookin’ out for lead

We’ve all heard about the dangers associated with inhaling or eating lead. Mostly, exposure to the toxic metal comes from breathing in lead paint chips or dust.

What you may not know is that lead is sometimes found in tap water. Generally speaking, the contamination is the result of corroded pipes, solder, fittings and fixtures. Lead pipes were banned in the mid-’80s, so houses built prior to that time are more likely to leach the contaminant. The only way to know whether water contains unhealthy levels of lead is to have it tested. Unfortunately, boiling water will not get rid of it.

Exposure to lead in drinking water is especially dangerous to babies and children, who can experience delays in physical and mental development as a result. However, adults aren’t immune to the toxin, which is linked to kidney problems and high blood pressure. Here are some tips to reduce your exposure:

• Drink and cook with cold tap water.

• Never mix infant formula with hot tap water.

• Run water for a short time before each use.

• Use a faucet or pitcher filter that is certified by NSF International.

• Don’t drink water that has sat for more than six hours in your home’s plumbing. Instead, let the water run until you feel a change in temperature.

Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (www.epa.gov)