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Never Drink Hot Water From the Tap

The claim has the ring of a myth. But environmental scientists say it is real.

The reason is that hot water dissolves contaminants more quickly than cold water, and many pipes in homes contain lead that can leach into water. And lead can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in young children.

Lead is rarely found in source water, but can enter it through corroded plumbing. The Environmental Protection Agency says that older homes are more likely to have lead pipes and fixtures, but that even newer plumbing advertised as “lead-free” can still contain as much as 8 percent lead. A study published in The Journal of Environmental Health in 2002 found that tap water represented 14 to 20 percent of total lead exposure

Lead poisoning from drinking water is such a major concern that it has prompted most major cities to require schools and day-care centres to test for lead annually. There are many reports from both government departments and public health organizations which advise pregnant women and young children not to drink unfiltered water. There is no safe level for lead - any amount of lead is poisonous. In Canada and the USA, all buildings that were built before 1990, even those that have copper piping, contain water piping that is joined with lead-based solder. Therefore, anyone drinking tap water or cooking with tap water is at risk of lead poisoning.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released statistics showing that nearly 1 million children aged one through five continue to have elevated blood lead levels. If you currently do not have a water filter, the very minimum that you should do is to flush your tap for a few minutes before anyone consumes it.

Canada's CBC news sampled water from homes across the country and found 15 out of 50 homes – nearly one-third - had lead levels above the national guideline. Whereas, the other 35 homes with level less than national guideline is also not safe to drinking because any amount of lead is poisonous. One even had levels at 250 times the allowable limit. If you live in a home built prior to 1970, then you are probably consuming water containing high lead levels because your home likely contains lead-soldered pipes. .

Scientists emphasize that the risk is small. But to minimize it, filtered cold tap water or spring water should always be used for preparing baby formula, cooking and drinking. Most people also don't realize that boiling water does not remove lead and many other contaminants, but can actually increase their concentration. More information is at www.epa.gov/lead.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Hot water from the tap should never be used for cooking or drinking.


Reference Source 93, 102
January 31, 2008


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