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When measuring lead in water, check the temperature

Hazardous metal’s levels much higher in summer than winter, study finds

7:00am, May 8, 2016
lead season

PIPE PROBLEM  Lead levels in drinking water vary seasonally as temperatures change, new research shows. Dissolved and undissolved lead concentrations in Washington, D.C., pipes were highest during summer and lowest during winter.

Lead contamination in drinking water can change with the seasons. Tracking lead levels in water pipes over several months, researchers discovered three times as much dissolved lead and six times as much undissolved lead in summer than in winter. The finding could help improve water testing, says study coauthor Sheldon Masters, an environmental engineer at Virginia Tech and Corona Environmental Consulting in Philadelphia.

Masters and colleagues analyzed water contamination data collected from pipes in Washington, D.C., and Providence, R.I., and tested the dissolvability of lead in different water conditions. In many, but not all, homes and lab tests, the amount of lead leaching into drinking water rose as water temperature increased.

For pipes in Washington, average wintertime dissolved lead levels were 3.6 parts per billion, compared with 10.8 ppb during summer. Average undissolved lead concentrations varied from 7.6 ppb during winter to 48.4 ppb during summer. Each 1

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