Lead: The Perilous Poison in Your Tap Water

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lead_water_infrastructrure_jackson_flintLead is a killer.  To that statement, nobody is surprised.  The shock may be perhaps just how silently lead slips into our systems, not only in terms of its delivery often by aging public utility works or other modes, but also how it becomes absorbed into our human bodily systems.  More often than not, the serious harm of lead poisoning has long taken its toll on the physiology of a person before it exhibits itself overtly via a plethora of symptoms finally manifested in multiple forms of chronic illness.  It is a dastardly manner to get sick or die.  

So, as prepper’s intent on surviving this world’s outward disasters in the form of natural and unnatural events, how does one protect against the potential infusions of poisoning by lead sources?  First is to understand it, know it, then begin to practice cautions to guard against it, identify it, and recognize the threats and how to ward off its impact on our health and that of our family especially small children, who are more highly susceptible.  

Lead the Toxin

lead_poison_toxic_drinkJust for the sake of basic scientific information the chemical symbol for lead on the chart is Pb.  It is a highly toxic metal considered to be a very strong poison.  It builds up in the human body sometimes not exposing itself in terms of medical symptoms for months or even years.  Children are the most susceptible, because in their very youngest years they are still developing their brains and nervous system which lead attacks. Lead is primarily a neurotoxin in that it mainly targets the nervous system as well as the brain.  It causes a number of maladies and disorders within these physiological systems.  Lead poisoning can also cause blood disorders that can be equally terminal in nature.  

The Symptoms of Lead Poisoning

The list of lead poisoning symptoms in the human body is lengthy.  The listing includes abdominal pain, cramps, aggressive behaviors, constipation, sleep disorders, headaches, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, high blood pressure, numbness or tingling in the extremities, memory loss, anemia, and kidney dysfunction.  

doctor_medical_SWOT-2Additional symptoms often displayed are vomiting, muscle weakness, stumbling, seizures, coma, and encephalopathy, which is a form of confusion often combined with coma. The real trick is to not only to identify these symptoms or illnesses, but to prove the link of these ailments to actual lead poisoning.  Thank goodness for us, this can be proven by a series of appropriate specific blood tests.  In theory then the links to lead poisoning can be shown so that treatment regimens can be prescribed by the medical profession.  

Lead Delivery Threats

graveyard_water_towerRemember Flint, Michigan?  I am certain there are numerous other examples of both isolated and widespread excessive concentrations of lead having been delivered to the citizen population via municipal water systems.  Lead poisoning is after all caused by the ingestion of the material into the human body and thereby absorbed into the tissues. Though as we know, lead poisoning can also come from lead paint that was quite common in older residential housing construction as well as huge metropolitan housing complexes, apartment buildings and other dwellings.  Lead was also prevalent in older toys, and other items that children might have put in their mouths over extended periods.  Those sources of lead have now long been cleaned up and removed from society for the most part.  They no longer remain a threat to human health, but drinking water sources are another matter entirely.  

Lead sources can also exist within our soils, ground water, and surface waters and are considered environmental contaminates.  These are often quite prevalent in areas where lead is mined or exists within the earth structures naturally. Towns and cities all over the country are under the threat of aging water piping systems. These were constructed of lead pipes and soldiered joints and are still a widespread threat in America.  Rural water systems are not exempt either from lead poisoning.  Threats of lead in water also exists in private wells as well.  

Every drinking water source is subject to government regulations regarding the amount of lead registered as PPB’s or parts per billion.  The Federal Government’s EPA has established acceptable standards for lead and all chemicals in drinking water.  These sources are supposed to be tested and certified on a regular basis, but sometimes are not.  Are your sources tested?  Is the water coming from your tap right now safe to drink?  This, you better know.  

A Case in Point

sink_water_drinking_contaminationJust last year a municipality near my location, Jackson, Mississippi, experienced issues with elevated lead levels in the city’s drinking water sources.  After extensive sampling of water in 58 city sample sites, 22 per cent of the locations showed lead levels exceeding the accepted Federal levels. The Feds say that a water lead test above 0.015 or 15 ppb exceeds safe levels.  Jackson’s water tested at 0.017 to 0.02 ppb, which is above the Federal standard for safe drinking water.  The source or blame was reported to be the individual home internal samples, not originating from the city’s water distribution network.  And who exactly believes that?  City officials reported that homes built before 1988 were susceptible to lead contaminated water.  Corrosive (city supplied) water can cause the lead in older pipes and commonly soldiered joints to leach out thus causing the excessive high lead levels in the water tests. Action by the city was to correct the inadequate corrosion control in the city water piping systems.  Water chemistry reacts to home pipes and fixtures thus increasing lead levels.  One suspects aging city water systems also contribute to the leaching lead.

It was also noted that the summer heat experienced in the south causes higher lead uptake than in the winter months.  One assumes the external environmental heat raises the temperature in the piping systems thus increasing the temperature of the lead in those pipes furthering the leaching potential into the drinking tap water.  

Treatment and Protection

red_cross_first_aid.svgThere are medical treatments for proven lead poisoning caused from ingestion and absorption.  Blood tests can reveal this as well as other medical tests to assess damage to tissue and organs. The human body can be purged of excessive lead levels.  The process is referred to as chelation therapy.  The treatment binds the lead to be evacuated from the body through urination.  One of the medicines used in the chelation process is known as dimercaprol.  Far be it from me to discuss the medical implications and complications of lead poisoning any further.  Consult other medical information, physicians, or medical experts on the subject.  

Protection is by working to prevent the ingestion of lead.  There are numerous lead filtering systems available for home use to reduce or eliminate the threat of lead in your drinking water.  Have your water tested professionally or purchase a home water testing kit to verify if lead is in your drinking water.  Just knowing one way or the other may be of some relief.  This should be done on a periodically recommended schedule as things change in water delivery systems, even a home well.  

Lead is a noxious substance.  It makes people sick and can eventually kill them.  Part of prepping is to also protect ourselves at home or work or life in addition to being prepared for other SHTF events.  If you have any reason to suspect your drinking water sources are contaminated with lead, then test it, then filter it to be on the safe side.  

Always monitor local area news reports and public service reports on municipal water system safety.  Make certain public waters are tested on schedule.  

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