Can lead affect every home?
Lead-contaminated drinking water is most often a problem in houses that are either very old or very new. Up through the early 1900's, it was common practice, in some areas of the country, to use lead pipes for interior plumbing. Also, lead piping was often used for the service connections that join residences to public water supplies. This practice ended only recently in some localities. Plumbing installed before 1930 is most likely to contain lead. Copper pipes have replaced lead pipes in most residential plumbing. However, the use of lead solder with copper pipes is widespread. Experts regard this lead solder as the major cause of lead contamination of household water in U.S. homes today. New brass faucets and fittings can also leach lead, even though they are "lead-free." Scientific data indicate that the newer the home, the greater the risk of lead contamination. Lead levels decrease as a building ages. This is because, as time passes, mineral deposits form a coating on the inside of the pipes (if the water is not corrosive). This coating insulates the water from the solder. But, during the first five years (before the coating forms) water is in direct contact with the lead. More likely than not, water in buildings less than five years old has high levels of lead contamination.
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