Tips to Decrease Lead in Your Water and Cosmetics

In my last blog I wrote that I was waiting for my water lead results. Well, my water lead results are in and thankfully I have very little lead in my water sources. I was asked to collect water samples from three different faucets in my home first thing in the morning, after the water had been sitting in the pipes for at least six hours. These water samples were transferred to test containers and sent to a lab for analysis. Water was collected from the kitchen faucet, the bathroom faucet, and the tub faucet.

My drinking water (from the kitchen) contained 1.82 ppb lead. To put this in context, the EPA standard for drinking water = 15 parts per billion (ppb). So way below the EPA standard. The water from the bathroom sink faucet contained no detectable level of lead and the water from the bath tub contained 5.7 ppb lead.

So what do you do if your water tests over 15 ppb?  I learned from the inspection company that did the testing that the excess lead is likely coming from the fixture itself, not the pipes. (Lead in fixtures has only very recently been phased out). Therefore let the water run for 5-10 seconds (as per EPA) before you use/drink the water. Or you can replace the fixture with new/no lead type. A good tip!

A source of lead that I did not mention in Part I of this blog article is cosmetics. Did you know that there are no FDA (Food and Drug Administration) standards on how much lead is allowed in cosmetics, only in the color additives?! For cosmetics this is 20 ppm (parts per million). Lead in cosmetics: FDA

In 2008 the State of CA Attorney General’s Office released a position letter about acceptable amounts of lead in lipstick as per Proposition 65. “Accordingly, based on the data we have reviewed, we do not think Proposition 65 actions would be warranted for lipstick with lead levels less than 5 ppm”.

To decrease your lead exposure, use safe cosmetics!  Go to EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics data base to rate your lipstick and other cosmetics!  Especially your lipstick, as you are very likely to ingest some of it!

Now on to water filters!  I have been researching and asking around in my environmental medicine forums. The water filter you pick really has mostly to do with the quality of water where you live and what needs to be filtered out!  That aside, here are my top three picks:

  1. Berkey Water Filters for portable water purification or for counter top:
    Berkey water filters remove viruses to purification standards, pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites to non detectable levels, and harmful or unwanted chemicals to below detectable levels. Berkey water filters also reduce toxic heavy metals such as lead and mercury without removing the beneficial and nutritional minerals needed to support a healthy body and mind. The only downsides I have heard so far is that that they are a little bulky and you have to watch that you don’t fill the top with more than the bottom can handle.  Make sure to also get the fluoride & arsenic filters!
  2. Watts Walter Filters: Counter top reverse osmosis systems that reduce sand, silt, sediment, rust, chloramine, chlorine taste, and odor. Also good for removing flouride! Also offer undercounter water systems that remove Volatile Organic chemicals. Downside to reverse osmosis: The semi-permeable membrane used in reverse osmosis contains tiny pores through which water can flow. These pores are restrictive to bacteria and disease-causing pathogens. However, these pores can also block some naturally occurring minerals in water. Again, it depends on the quality of your water to determine if Reverse Osmosis is a good choice for you.
  3. Aquasana: Offer a variety of water systems that filter chlorine and chloramines, lead, asbestos, giardia, pesticides, herbicides, and Volatile Organic Compounds.  Also offer Reverse Osmosis systems.

To test for lead and other chemicals in your home, I recommend the folks at Environmental Inspection Service. They have offices in Los Angeles and Berkeley.