Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Penn State Extension Project Provides Information On Lead, Copper In Rural Drinking Water Supplies

By Bryan Swistock, Water Resources Coordinator

Penn State Extension received funding through the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide water testing to private water system owners in select counties across 
Pennsylvania starting in 2016 and continuing through 2020. Households which participated in this project were able to attend educational workshops where their water tests were explained and interpreted.
The Project tested drinking water from nearly 600 private water wells, springs and cisterns.
Water samples collected early in the morning from water that sat in the household plumbing, commonly referred to as a “first-draw” water sample, contained copper and lead concentrations above the health-based drinking water standards in 14 percent and 10 percent of households, respectively. 
Excessive levels of copper can cause various gastrointestinal symptoms while high levels of lead have been linked to many serious health effects especially in children.
Research has shown that lead and copper are much more likely to enter water as it passes through household plumbing due to corrosion which dissolves the metals from solders, pipes, or fixtures. 
In the current project, 65 percent of drinking water supplies were corrosive based on the Langalier Saturation Index of corrosivity. Nearly all (95 percent) of the homes with high levels of lead and copper in the first-draw samples dropped to safe levels when the water was flushed through the plumbing for at least one minute. 
This is further evidence that corrosion of metal plumbing is the overwhelming cause of lead and copper in private wells, springs and cisterns in this project.
Homeowners concerned about copper and lead in private water supplies should watch for common symptoms of corrosion including blue-green stains in sinks, pinhole leaks in plumbing joints, and a metallic taste to water that has sat in the pipes. 
Water testing for copper and lead is readily available from various state accredited testing labs for about $25 to $40 for each parameter.
More information on lead, copper and corrosive drinking water can be found in the following two Penn State Extension publications:
[For more information, visit DEP’s Lead In Drinking Water webpage.]

(Reprinted from the Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletter. Click Here to sign up for updates from Penn State Extension.)

[Posted: November 26, 2019]  www.PaEnvironmentDigest.com

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