Sunday, July 17, 2011

I'll have a glass of lead, please. With lead ice.

I need to create a WTF pigeon hole for my posts.

Elevated levels of lead in our tap water.


Small article in the Times' Green blog states that New York's drinking water now has 'normal' levels of lead in it. Oh, yay.

Apparently the city has been running an ad campaign since last November about running tap water for 30 seconds before drinking it or cooking with it.

Really? I read papers, I listen to WNYC, I ride the subway. All excellent places for an ad about a serious, long term health hazard in city water.

This is the first I have heard about it.

I drink tap water every day. I consider bottled water one of the biggest hoaxes ever perpetrated on consumers, and one of the most avoidable sources of unnecessary plastic.

But would it have been safer to drink plastic water for the last, six, seven, eight - how many? no one is saying - months?

What about children?

Call me naive. I thought safe drinking water was something we traveled to Third World countries to provide.

Hi, Naive.


  1. I haven't seen or heard of this. However, it is commonly repeated because many old buildings have lead pipes, or lead water main going into the house. Only houses with replaced water mains will not have this problem. Is the lead coming from another source?

    I always run for a few seconds, and given the frequency of water use in our multi-unit dwellings, water is running. Lead and some other metals cling to the sides of the pipe, while the "good" stuff runs through.

    My 2 cents. Keep drinking. I think we'll be ok. People used to put lead in wine to sweeten it! Of course, they died young, didn't they.

  2. OMG. What Ad campaign???? I wish I had not read this post. I am going to think about all the water my boys drank the last 7 months FOREVER.

  3. Sitting here in central Wisconsin on an artesian spring from a deep aquifer, I still feel your pain. Heavy metals, though, can be filtered out using something similar to a Britta tap filter or some such filter. At least it's not benzene!

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  5. Frank and MoM and Kiddo - yeah. Three New Yorkers. No ad campaign in sight. I am actually extremely rattled by this.7-8 glasses a day over how many months? What about pregnant women?

    Rachelle - I'm going to get a filter. I used to poo-poo them. New York water was famously 'good'.

  6. Nowadays we Brita filter all our water used for drinking, tea and coffee, because of lead possibly leeching from our own copper pipes and the fact that our water is incredibly hard. But we didn't always. It would seem wise to do so in NY too.

  7. NY water is good. Famously. Have you had the foul sulfur water or iron water, or worse? Ack. NY water is great and some parts of the country (and state) do not know what they are missing.

    Your water mains are either terra cotta (probably not), iron, or plastic out to your street. From there, the question is whether or not your landlord, or other previous owner in the last 40 years has had to redo the connection to the water main. In a neighborhood like yours, it is quite possible that it has been done. Check with your landlord, or if that is untenable, the DOB. All pipes inside your building that carry potable water are likely to be copper. Go to the basement to see. If the pipe entering your building from the street side (most likely if it was redone) should be a large copper pipe, possibly 1-1 1/4 inch in diameter up to the meter. If it is copper, your main has likely been redone and you have no reason to fear the lead.

    Others, another story.

  8. That stealth water campaign is an appropriate "WTF". I drink from the tap too here in MD suburb of DC w/filter because unlike NYC water, ours isnt always tasty. There is this sometimes a pungent, dirt-like aftertaste to our unfiltered municipal water. Crisp and refreshing once filtered by a Brita pitcher...


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