Is There Lead in Your Pittsburgh Water?
Over the past year, a spotlight has been cast upon the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. It was discovered that certain areas and houses had high levels of lead in their drinking water.
Many Pittsburgh area homes tested higher than the EPA legal limit of 15 parts-per-billion. But no level of lead exposure in water is healthy – particularly for children. Furthermore, the short-term effects of lead contamination can be difficult to detect.
Find Out How
There are steps you can take in determining if your home uses lead pipes:
- Find Your Service Line
If you have a basement, your service line is likely accessible from there. It is usually near the front of the home. If you don’t have a basement, a typical spot would be in your house, more than likely in a corner, nearest to the road and low to the floor.
- Test the Materials
Scrape the pipe with a key or screwdriver. One of the primary indicators that your pipe is lead is a dark matte gray color, and the metal turning soft and shiny after scratching it. A bronze color would reveal your line is copper. Likewise, try a magnet on your pipe. If it sticks, your line probably galvanized steel.
- But wait…
Just because your line is not lead does not mean you’re out of the woods. Rusty pipes can collect small pieces of metal and sometimes will release these pieces of lead, even after the lead plumbing has been removed. You may also have lead fittings or solder connecting your pipes.
If you think you may have lead pipes/fittings in your Pittsburgh water service line…
Contact the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority or a local plumber for an educated opinion on possibly replacing your private service line. Local authorities recently introduced legislation that would provide government assistance to low- to middle-income homeowners that need their private line replaced along with the mandated public lead service line.