Managing lead in our drinking water is a challenge for many systems across the nation—not to mention, Canada, UK & Australia. The reality is that water quality is fluid, changing with the conditions of the source water. The lead and copper rule, while it may be effective for evaluating chemicals in water for corrosion control, simply does not allow us to account for the presence of lead in homes and facility.
New research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that Manganese can speed up the production of lead in lead pipes. This further underscores the need for full lead service line replacements. Obviously, the temporary measures we have in place, such as corrosion control, are necessary as we evaluate the cost and timeline needed for the capital infrastructure investments to remove all lead lines.
“In the presence of oxidants, manganese can easily change oxidation states; if the manganese comes into contact with chlorine, it’s oxidized, turning into manganese oxide. Both in computer models and in experiments that mimicked water pipes — complete with artificial tap water — Giammar’s lab found the manganese oxide acted as a catalyst, increasing the rate of conversion from lead carbonate to lead dioxide by two orders of magnitude.”
It will take time, funding and a commitment to address the root cause of lead contamination.