If you live in a home or an apartment building that was built before the early 1980's (or even worse one built before the 1920's), then there's a good chance your pipes are soldered with lead. Drinking water remains the second most-common source of lead poisoning in kids, after lead paint. Drinking water is usually contaminated in transport between the local water utility and your faucet via lead pipes in houses built before the 1920's, lead pipes serving as water mains connecting to homes, and lead solder used to join copper piping found in houses built between the 1950's and 1980's.
It only makes sense that water that sat overnight in those pipes would have a higher lead content than fresh water. So, the first time I use my water in the morning. I make sure to run the cold water for several minutes, so I now have fresh, clean water in my home's pipes. Running the cold water for several minutes means you are getting fresh water from the street and are not drinking the water that has sat in your pipes overnight. Don't do this with your hot water because the water comes from the hot-water tank and you'd not want to waste the electricity or gas.
I know it may sound like wastefulness to run your water for several minutes each morning, but if your kids are drinking it or you are making coffee or juice from it, it really makes a difference in taste and lead content. By the 1990's, lead had disappeared as a component of new plumbing, primarily replaced by PVC. Some of the chemicals used to make PVC, such as vinyl chloride and organotin compounds are also dangerous and it is possible, in some cases, for them to leach into the water carried by the pipes. PVC pipes manufactured after 1977 are safer, but for safety's sake, run your water for several minutes each morning before drinking. You'll know you have run the water long enough when the water becomes colder.
Another important consideration, is the acidity of your water. If you have a well, test the acidity of your water, because acid water leaches the lead out more, and will increase the lead in your water.
You can buy old fashioned litmus paper at a "science" store; or get a test kit at a pet store, in the aquarium area. The closer to neutral your water is, the better. If you do find your water to be acidic, find out ASAP about getting a "de-acidifying unit" for your water system. They are not cheap (there are numerous types); but what price health? Maybe bottled water for drinking and cooking....
But lead is a serious issue, especially for children!
"I know it may sound like wastefulness to run your water for several minutes each morning, but if your kids are drinking it or you are making coffee or juice from it, it really makes a difference in taste and lead content."
It does sound like wastefulness and there is a reason. It is! Once the water lines have been flushed, why not fill ten empty gallon jugs. At least, you shouldn't have to flush your lines, every day. Another benefit; letting the water sit in jugs for a while will allow time for the chlorine to dissipate. Your coffee should taste even better without chlorine.
If filling the jugs is too much trouble, a re evaluation is in order. There are still people on this ship who have to walk long distances every day just to have a drink of water.
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