Is Your Family Safe from Contaminated Water?

With the recent problems with the water supply in Flint, Michigan, the issues surrounding lead in our drinking water have been brought to the forefront.

We've known for some time now that lead is terrible for our health — that's why we avoid lead paint and our “lead” pencils are actually made out of graphite. But even though we've stripped our walls and toys of lead paint, that doesn't mean that the threat is completely taken care of. In fact, 90 million people are getting their drinking water from pipes that contain lead.

Granted, that doesn't necessarily mean that every one of those 90 million people is drinking lead-infused water. All that means is that 90 million people are at risk of lead-related illnesses in the case that the lead mixes in with the flowing water.

To get some more information, we sat down with Charlotte Brody, RN, who is the Executive Director of Healthy Babies Bright Futures.

baby with a sippy
Image via iStock

According to Dr. Brody, lead can impact people on a variety of levels. For growing children whose brains are still developing, lead poisoning can “impact IQ scores, attention, the ability to problem solve, the ability to control violent impulses.”

Rashes, vomiting, and seizures are typically the side effects of lead poisoning that are associated with the illness, so it's interesting to think that the ability to control violent impulses would be affected just by drinking water that had been mixed with traces of lead.

Clearly, lead is something that you want to keep away from your family at all costs, but how can you know if your family is at risk of lead poisoning or is currently drinking from a lead-covered pipeline?

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Image via Alison Lee

Virginia Tech University has teamed up with Dr. Brody and her team to create water-testing kits. The kits come with three containers — one for water from your faucets, one for the water from underneath your sink, and one for the pipes that come into your home from the street.

All three of these bottles will be tested for lead, and you will be given the results of the tests.

While the tests themselves cost $50 and the shipping is $15, HBBF is distributing these tests on a “pay what you can” basis. “We are offering [the test] to families that can't afford $65 for whatever they can pay, and we're hoping that families that can afford it will help pay it forward,” Dr. Brody said.

She understands the financial burden that $65 can have on a family. That's why she's calling on more-fortunate families to help out with this extremely important test.


The small girl is drincking water from glas.
Image via iStock

Dr. Brody said that combating lead will depend on how the lead is getting into your water supply. “In some instances, if the lead is coming from the faucet, then you can just change out the faucet,” she said. “But if the lead is coming from the street, that really requires a community-level approach in the long term to get rid of those pipes and replacing them with safer pipes.”

While you're still figuring out as to whether or not your family is at risk, you can purchase an approved filter for your faucets so that you can have some short-term relief to protect your family while the bigger issue is being solved.

For more information about the testing, the effects of lead, and how you can help fund other people's testing kits, visit the Healthy Babies Better Futures website.

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Is Your Family Safe from Contaminated Water?

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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