Houston plumbers are tuned into water conservation as a priority for many communities across Texas and the United States. Unfortunately, aging pipes and infrastructure have created serious issues not only for homeowners but also for the city of Houston. During the 2011 drought, more than 11,000 leaks were reported throughout the city. Experts estimate that about 2,500 miles of pipes in Houston are over 50 years old and at risk of breaking under pressure or from age. To make matters worse, aging pipes and the solder used to connect copper pipes inside Houston homes may contain lead that can dissolve into drinking water and present serious health issues for residents. Consulting with a Houston plumber can help homeowners identify the cities water pipe issues with lead and other contaminants in drinking water to ensure the safety of every member of the family. Here are some key facts about the health risks of lead in plumbing that every Houston homeowner should know.
Lead Is Especially Harmful for Children
According to medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, lead can cause developmental issues for children who are exposed to this harmful substance over a long period of time. Pregnant women are also at high risk of complications due to the presence of lead in water or in their immediate surroundings. Lead poisoning can cause the following symptoms:
- Pain and tingling in various parts of the body
- Gastrointestinal disorders, including vomiting, stomach pain and constipation
- Unexplained weight loss
- Learning disabilities and permanent developmental difficulties in babies and children
- Low birth weights
- Hearing loss
- Forgetfulness and short-term memory loss
- Tooth decay
- Behavioral disorders, including irritability
- Reproductive difficulties
Lead can be absorbed through the skin, by breathing in particles of lead paint or other materials or through ingestion by mouth. Lead-based paints have presented serious risks to children in urban areas who inadvertently ate paint that flaked off windows, doors and walls. In water supplies, lead can sometimes go unnoticed to present significant risks to large population centers.
The Alarming Example of Flint
The toxic levels of lead in Flint, Michigan, have prompted extensive news coverage. The issues began when Flint city officials decided to change their water supply from the Detroit Water Department to one that drew on the water supply of Lake Huron. In the interim period, the city temporarily switched to water drawn from the Flint River. This water was far more corrosive and allowed lead to leach from pipes owned by the city into the drinking water provided for Flint families. In 2015, medical studies began to emerge that showed a pattern of high blood levels of lead among children in Flint. Replacing lead pipes with safer alternatives is generally the only way to address the problem effectively. Because the location of the lead pipes causing these problems was not recorded or documented, Flint may be facing a huge public works project in the very near future.
Houston Not Immune from Potential Problems
With future droughts likely in upcoming years and little or no information available regarding the specific materials used to construct public water pipes in Houston, the city may soon face a serious water crisis. Replacement of water conduits can potentially reduce the amount of water wasted when pipes break during extended dry periods. For homeowners, working with a trusted Houston plumbing company can provide added information on potential health risks and can ensure the safest, best-tasting water for the whole family.
Replacing aging pipes and checking for lead content in your home water supply can provide you with added peace of mind regarding the health of your family. A professional Houston water heater repair and plumbing firm can perform accurate testing to determine the exact amounts of lead and other contaminants in your drinking water and can take steps to remediate these issues both inside and outside your home. By working with an experienced Houston plumber, you can ensure the safest environment for your children and your entire family.