Via AlterNet: Is Your Faucet Making You Sick? Your drinking water may be contaminated with lead, even if you're using faucets claiming to be 'lead free.' Here's what we can do about it.
Federal Law Is not Entirely Protective
Under current federal law, the faucet that is labeled "lead free" can contain as much as four percent lead. In addition, federal law allows some small lead concentrations to leach out of your faucet and into the water you and your family drink. The typical household faucet manufactured over the last fifteen years can contain a quarter pound of lead! Older faucets manufactured before 1996 can contain double that amount. We know that a faucet containing so much lead is likely to leach lead into the drinking water used in our homes.
The existing laws rely on a standard that assumes a "small" amount of lead leaching from our faucets is safe. Since there are many ways that we can still be exposed to lead, we should be eliminating lead exposure wherever we can. Getting lead out of faucets is something we know can be done, and we cannot delay. [...]
Dangerous Levels of Lead in Our Plumbing
The EPA estimates that up to 20 percent of human lead exposure is the result of lead in our plumbing, including faucets. Public health departments in nearly every state across the nation and as well as the EPA all provide warnings on their web sites about the dangers from the lead that lurks in your plumbing.
They advise against using hot water directly from the tap for human consumption. This is because hot water causes more lead to leach out of plumbing. They also advise that you run the cold water tap for several minutes before drinking water from it. This is to help clear the water that has been collecting lead while it sits in the pipes.No such warnings can be posted at the millions of drinking fountains located in schools across the country, where rampant violations of state and federal lead standards have been documented. [...]
Waking Up to the Dangers of Lead?
In September 2008 the EPA lowered the lead standard for air emissions based on their recognition of new medical studies demonstrating the dangers of exposure to lead at levels previously thought to be safe. These new medical studies make it clear that any exposure to lead, whether through air or water, is dangerous and demonstrate how important it is for our children's future health that we get the lead entirely out of our drinking water systems.
In 2006 California started a revolution to finally make our faucets safe by adopting a law that essentially eliminates lead from drinking water plumbing. Vermont and Maryland have already followed California's lead by passing similar laws. U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo has now introduced H.R. 5289 to get the lead out of all drinking water faucets and plumbing sold in the United States. Of course, the battle isn't won. The plumbing industry continues to resist, seeking amendments that would allow industry to bypass federal governmental regulation and continue manufacturing and selling unsafe