Why are water fountains susceptible to Lead?


The water crisis in Flint has shone a spotlight on a decades-old problem of lead contaminating drinking water supplies. Despite the fact that there is a serious danger to children from exposure, states, and the federal government do not require schools, stores and other public places to regularly test their fountain water for traces of this toxic metal. Fortunately, this is set to change.  Why are water fountains susceptible to Lead?

The Lead Danger 

Most of us are aware that lead products have been phased out over the years, but many fail to recognize the massive danger lead exposure can be to children and that lead is still a very real problem in old government and school buildings. Lead is a lethal contaminant which poses a massive threat to human health.  

The Current Situation: 

Currently, approximately ten percent of the schools in the U.S operate their own water system. This means that mandatory regular testing is in place. Over the last three years 278 school systems documented lead levels in excess of the minimum EPA standards. The EPA has determined that the level at zero since there is no safe level of lead in water contamination.  

Many old government buildings, stores and schools are connected to municipal or other public water utilities. While these water supplies are tested, there is still the possibility that lead from an aged plumbing systems will leach into “safe” water. The main area of concern is the service line, or the plumbing network connecting the water main to the building. Although Congress banned lead plumbing in 1986, many older buildings still have the lead pipes installed prior to that date. Additionally, schools often have particularly long service lines as they tend to be set far back from the street. An especially long line will increase the chances of water contamination as the water has to travel further.  

If you are the administrator of a school or other public building and are concerned about the safety of your water fountain, it need not be a costly issue to resolve.  My experience has been with EcoWater which has been very good.  They offer the Safe Fountain System.  This device can be installed at the water source next to the water fountain, and it passes the drinking water through three filters. This system is certified to remove VOCs and 99.3% of colloidal and dissolved lead. It is also NSF P231 Certified for removal of 99.9% of viruses, cysts, and bacteria. The system is equipped with automatic shutoff and monitoring, with a tamper proof cabinet. This provides an excellent alternative to simply putting the fountain out of use or going to the expense of investing in a new whole building system. Speak to your local water treatment professional.  They may offer an alternative brand or a commercial RO systems for water supplies in food preparation areas, which is designed to ELIMINATE the  risk of lead exposure.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.

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