February 18, 2011

Just the Facts – Lead and Copper Q&A

Q: What are lead and copper?

Copper is the major component of most home plumbing. In the past, lead was used as the major constituent of certain types of pipe. It was also used in pipe solder, and it can be present in trace amounts in the alloys that are used in the production of plumbing fixtures.

Q: How can lead and copper contaminate my drinking water?

Through the corrosion of plumbing systems. Lead and copper are not found in the treated water. Corrosive (soft) water is more aggressive than hard water and may leach lead or copper out of the plumbing in your house, allowing these minerals to get into your tap water. Our treatment process removes just the right amount of hardness from the water so it creates a thin layer of protective scale to coat your pipes and protect them from the corrosion.

Q. How does Des Moines Water Works test for lead and copper?

We test for lead and/or copper using atomic absorption spectroscopy. Simply put, we measure the amount of energy absorbed at a wavelength (color) specific to the lead and/or copper.

Q: How does Des Moines Water Works treat for lead and copper?

During the treatment process, we keep the water leaving the plant near a 9.5 pH level to form a thin barrier of protective scale in the pipes.

Q: What are the health effects?

In infants and children, lead may cause delays in physical or mental development. In adults, it may cause kidney problems and/or high blood pressure. Excessive amounts of copper can cause stomach upset and liver and kidney problems.

For more information, call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700 or visit www.dmww.com. For additional information, call the SAFE DRINKING WATER HOTLINE: 1-800-426-4791

Want more Just the Facts? Visit: http://www.dmww.com/SubPageHTML.aspx?SubPageID=120

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
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