Lead is a type of metal that occurs naturally. It is considered toxic for your health because it accumulates in your body over time and can cause a number of health complications like damage to the nervous system, reproduction system, affected rate of development, irregular blood pressure, and anemia.
In fact, it can also cause lead toxicity and may result in seizures, and death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead toxicity takes over 143,000 lives globally each year. This is quite alarming, which is why often efforts are made for the check and balance of lead in water.
To remove lead from water, you may wonder if you can take extra measures for your safety such as using water softeners. But do water softeners remove lead? Here’s a detailed insight into this followed by certain measures you can take for removing lead from your water.
Do Water Softeners Remove Lead?
Unfortunately, no. Water softeners are not capable of removing lead from your water.
Lead occurs due to the outdated city water supply pipes or internal water supply pipes and fixtures in your home. Due to these outdated pipes and fixtures, it is not uncommon for lead to be found in your water regardless of getting pure water from municipal water treatment systems.
To help you understand, let’s look at how water softeners work.
Water softeners are essentially used for softening hard water. Water softeners work using the principles of ion exchange which helps remove calcium and magnesium cations and other hardness causing elements from your source water completely.
However, when it comes to removing lead, water softeners may simply fail since they are not intended to be used against lead. In fact, water softeners do not even remove disease causing contaminations.
Interestingly, water softened using water softeners can increase the likelihood of lead in your water.
Softened water is usually more corrosive compared to hard water. This means, when softened water moves through your pipes and fixtures, it will result in greater amounts of lead in your water along with other impurities.
To cope with removing lead, you will have to use a water purification filter that has a filtration media with a pore size smaller than the size of lead particles. These systems will physically remove lead particles from going through the filtration media while allowing water particles to pass through.
Only such systems can help remove lead from your source water regardless of how water softeners can substantially improve the quality of your water.
Here is an insight into some additional measures you can take for removing lead from your water alternatively.
Additional Measures To Remove Lead:
Lead contamination usually occurs when purified water leaves the municipal water treatment facility. This is why it is crucial to get your tap water tested to determine how bad the lead contamination is. Here are some measures you need to take:
1. Get Your Water Tested:
Water can be tested using a number of ways. You can either take a sample of your tap water to a water testing facility in your vicinity. A laboratory test will reveal the concentration of lead in your water which is crucial for deciding the next steps.
Similarly, you can also test your water using DIY water test kits. These can be easily sourced from your local and online stores. DIY water test kits comprise of strips which will help you find out the amount of lead present in your water.
Water testing is also crucial if you have a private well. Lead contamination can occur in different ways including water pollution that may result from the industrial waste discharges which affect ground water.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you to test your well water annually for lead and other diseases causing elements. Regular testing will ensure your water quality is up to the optimum marks and also help in keeping you healthy & disease free.
Once you get results, you should analyze the severity of lead contamination in your water.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the legal limit of lead in your water is 15 pars per million (PPM). If your test results reveal anything greater than this, you will have to take preventive measures and use the methods for removing lead mentioned below.
2. Using Reverse Osmosis Systems:
Reverse osmosis systems are designed to remove harmful contaminants from source water supply. It forces water through a semipermeable membrane with high pressure and retains harmful particles and contaminants from passing through the filter.
Semipermeable membranes have small pore sizes that can restrict lead particles and other contaminants from passing through the pores. This results in contaminant=free water which is absolutely safe for drinking and cooking purposes.
Furthermore, there are multiple filters in certain reverse osmosis systems. One filter removes harmful contaminants like lead, whereas the other filter mineralizes water by adding essential minerals to your source water – thus substantially improving the quality of your water.
3. Using Activated Carbon Filters:
Carbon filters can be installed to your tap water source and help in removing lead from your water. The working process of carbon filters is based on adsorption which retains lead particles by retaining them on the surface of the carbon filters.
However, you should know that not all activated carbon filters are the same. There are different varieties of activated carbon filters with some more efficient than others.
For instance, the type of activated carbon filters used in a refrigerator are the most efficient at removing taste affecting impurities but only remove up to 10% of lead.
These are also called garden variety carbon filters and may not provide the best results in terms of removing lead from your water. So, you should always opt for a type of carbon filter that is intended for removing lead entirely from your water supply rather than using basic or entry level carbon filters.
4. Using Kinetic Fluxion Degradation (KDF) Filters:
KDF filters comprise of a filtration media that helps in removing lead from water. It is also helpful against removing chlorine, copper, and other chemicals as well. KDF filters are based on the principles of using a redox reaction.
KDF filters are usually used in shower heads and help purify your bathing and general purpose water. The reason why people may prefer using KDF filters for removing lead from general purpose water is that these filters are heat resistant and not affected by hot water.
So, installing a KDF filter for general purpose water can help remove or lower the concentration of lead in your water substantially.
5. Using Distillation Systems:
Distillation systems are also extremely effective in terms of removing lead from water. These systems are also referred to as point-of-use systems and generally installed in kitchens for purifying water for drinking and cooking purposes.
The basic working principle of distillation systems or units is based on the process of boiling, vaporizing, and condensing. Ideally, when water enters a distillation system or unit, it is first boiled till vapors are formed and then collected in a condensing chamber.
The condensing chamber then stores these vapors where it is cooled and then converted back into liquid water. This liquid water is then collected in a storage tank which provides you with purified water and free from harmful contaminants like lead, nitrates, iron, calcium, magnesium, and others.
Conclusion – Do Water Softeners Remove Lead?
Water softeners do not remove lead. These are only intended to make your water soft by removing hardness causing elements which would otherwise affect your health and fixtures as well.
Removing lead requires routine testing and filtration systems like reverse osmosis systems, carbon filters, KDF filters, and distillation systems. These systems will physically remove lead particles from your water thus keeping you safe from the dreadful lead poisoning.