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
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