Project cost ($):
1 hour to prepare, 10 days for collection of samples and preparation
Do not ingest the water samples.
Table of Contents
This experiment was performed to ascertain the concentration of lead content in the tap water of new houses (less than 10 years old) as compared to houses which are more than 50 years old. These older houses should still be using lead pipe plumbing.
Older houses use lead pipe plumbing and therefore a higher level of lead content will be detected in the piped water, as compared to newer homes which use PVC pipes.
Lead pipes were used in plumbing until the early 20th century. Houses that are older than 50 years of age might still be using lead pipe plumbing. Many new houses use PVC pipes for plumbing, although copper and galvanized piping is equally popular.
Lead pipes cause the level of lead in tap water to increase substantially. Excessive lead content in drinking water can cause hypertension and kidney problems in adults. It also delays mental and physical growth in children. Regulations in the US require the level of lead in drinking water to be less than 15 parts per billion (ppb).
Lead, PVC, polyvinyl chloride , ppb (part per billion)
The materials required for the experiment:
The results show that many houses which are more that 50 years of age have lead pipes and where they do, a higher dosage of lead is found in the water. Many houses which are less than 10 years old have PVC pipes (although many have copper or galvanized pipes) and where they do, they have very low levels of lead.
The hypothesis that the older houses which use lead plumbing have a higher level of lead content in their tap water as compared to newer houses that use PVC pipes, is proven to be true.
Lead poisoning causes many health problems and can especially affect children and unborn babies. Lead is not only found in water, but also in paint, contaminated soil, crockery and even some toys. Therefore, be wary of the products you buy and ensure that they are lead-free.
The experiment can also be performed using testing kits such as Prolab, to reduce the cost.
Try to modify this experiment to check the level of copper in tap water.