Up until the 1950s lead pipe was used as the supply line from the water main to the house and in many areas, it may still be in use. Your home might have plumbing with lead or lead solder. It is impossible to see; smell, or taste lead.
Furthermore, boiling water that has passed through lead plumbing will not eliminate the lead from the water. Lead was also a component in the solder used on copper pipes. Lead-based solder is not as large a concern as lead piping would be. That’s because, with age, sulfates, minerals and various oxides build up and coat the interior surface of the pipe forming a barrier between the lead solder joints and the water passing through it.
Lead-based solder has been banned since the 1980s.
Water can be tested for lead content.
To minimize contamination from lead leaching from pipes into drinking water:
- Run the water for three to five minutes before drinking it.
- Never use water from the hot water faucet for drinking or cooking, hot water leeches lead from the pipe and from the soldering the joints.
NOTE: If lead piping is used in the supply lines for drinking water it should be replaced, or a reverse osmosis water purification system installed.
For more information see the EPA fact sheet