Carnegie Mellon University

Water Quality Management

Exposure to lead in drinking water is a significant health concern that, although most significantly affects young children and infants, can affect anyone who is exposed. Health problems may include cardiovascular effects, decreased kidney function, and reproductive problems in adults and lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia in children.

Lead can enter drinking water when lead pipes that are internal to the building corrode due to the high acidity or low mineral content of the water that flows through them. Structures built prior to 1986 are most likely to have lead pipes; however, water may still have lead in it even if built after 1986 owing to public utility lines that are located outside of the building.

Sampling for lead in drinking water aids in identifying fixtures with lead pipes by quantifying the concentration of lead in the water. In the event that lead reaches a specified concentration, the water fixture will be removed from service until an acceptable solution, such as replacing the piping, can be completed. For more information, please consult the Drinking Water Quality Program link on the right side of this page.