Why Lead Water Mains Can Be Harmful to Your Health

January 13, 2023

Unfortunately, there are still parts of NYC’s public plumbing system that include toxic materials. Learn more about why lead water mains can be harmful to your health and how the city effectively combats this public safety concern.

Health Dangers of Lead Exposure

First and foremost, it’s important to understand how lead negatively impacts the human body before diving into the specific dangers associated with lead water mains and plumbing infrastructure. Lead is considered a neurotoxin, making this element extremely hazardous to the brain, as well as certain organs, soft tissues, and the blood formation process. With prolonged exposure, lead can create enough damage to cause organ failure.

In adults, other common ailments associated with lead exposure include infertility in men, increased chances of miscarrying in women, hypertension, and anemia. However, when it comes to this neurotoxin, the most vulnerable population is adolescents. Children with high lead content in their blood are more likely to suffer from stunted growth, IQ loss, underdeveloped brains, negative behavioral habits, hearing loss, learning disabilities, and more.

Consequences of Corrosion & Degradation

It’s quite apparent how dangerous lead is to the human body. But why exactly are lead-based water mains and pipes so threatening to the safety and well-being of the general public? Lead was humanity’s number one material for plumbing construction projects for years due to its malleable firmness and resistance to pinhole leaks. However, as with any element, lead is prone to corrosion and overall degradation. This natural wear and tear slowly leaches lead particles into water supplies, contaminating potable sources and endangering any individual who drinks from one such source. Since this degradation process is slow and progressive, the impact of a lead water main can be felt for a long time unless proper corrective actions are taken.

Public Safety Actions & Solutions

As mentioned before, humans have used lead materials for plumbing construction projects for most of our history. In fact, there are plenty of active public water systems in the world today that still include some, if not all, lead components. In New York City, many residents discover their buildings’ water mains, the cross-connections between their private water supplies and the city’s public lines, contain lead when they receive an official notice from the Department of Environmental Protection. These DEP warnings require property owners to hire sewer contractors to remove and replace toxic plumbing infrastructure in a timely manner to better protect the surrounding community. While annoying for the property owner, these measures effectively ensure clean, safe drinking water for millions of individuals everywhere.

Understanding why lead water mains can be harmful to your health will hopefully increase residential awareness of contaminated plumbing infrastructure and the importance of prompt repair and replacement services. If your property requires emergency services in response to a DEP warning, contact our expert team of contractors here at Harris Water Main and Sewer.

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