Water: Water and Lead Pipes Essay

Submitted By wtai777
Words: 1078
Pages: 5

William Tai
Mrs. Wu
Chemistry H
Water. This odorless, tasteless, and colorless substance is among the most abundant compound on the surface of the Earth. It covers 70 percent of the globe, yet an astonishing sub 1 percent is fresh water, or water that you and I can ingest. It is held together by hydrogen bonds, the electrostatic attraction between polar molecules that occur when a hydrogen atoms bonds to a highly electronegative atom, where there are two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen molecules. This also means that water is a polar molecule where there is an uneven distribution of charge where the hydrogen has a positive charge and oxygen has a negative charge. This allows the water to become attracted to many other different molecules, so much so that it disrupts the attractive forces of molecules, dissolving them. Water is often regarded as the universal solvent. Why, because most substances dissolve when in contact with water. This sole fact prevents from water in nature to be pure, only in very extreme and rare circumstances. This can be good or bad, positives include the introduction of different materials such as iron, into our water supply which is beneficial; iron supplies us with nutrients, with beneficial health effects such as warding off fatigue and anemia. The negative side of this is much more intense. However not all metals are good for our body, the pollution of lead in our water systems has devastating effects on our human body. How does lead get into our water systems in the first place? The most common way is through contact during construction and plumbing. Lead is considered as a point source type of pollution where the pollutant can be traced to a specific location, in this case lead piping. The lead “leaches” through water through the process of corrosion, which is the dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and plumbing. The lead itself does not dissolve in water under normal conditions; however it may dissolve in water as PbCO3. Lead usually binds to sulphur in a sulphide form and in these forms they are extremely insoluble. A situation where lead becomes soluble in water is when the water is soft and slightly acidic. Many other factors contribute to lead entering your water pipes, including types and amounts of minerals in the water, duration the water is in the pipes, age of the pipes, and temperatures and acidity of the water. This is a big issue as according to United States Environmental Protection Agency “10 to 20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water.” The most common source of lead near our water is the use of lead pipes, nearly every single house built before 1986 has lead pipes. Due to its near invisible properties when dissolved in water, one can’t see, taste, or smell the lead, the only way to truly know if your pipes have lead is if they are tested. Again these issues usually only arise if the pipes have signs of corrosion. The introduction of this into our human body isn’t based upon water alone; when Thomas Midgley Jr. mixed Tetraethyl lead with gasoline to prevent engine knocking the effects were tremendous. 88 percent of children were exposed to nearly double the normal amount of lead in their system. Too much exposure of lead can lead to lead poisoning. When it enters the system it usually stores itself within the confines of the bones. From there it will be released into the blood, which means lead has a devastating long term effect on our organ systems especially during the re-exposure of it. What does lead do when in our system? The toxic nature of this metal affects all organs and functions within the body. Neurological effects include Peripheral neuropath, fatigue, irritability, impaired concentration, hearing loss, wrist/foot drop, seizures, and encephalopathy. The list goes on and on, it effects your reproductive system, giving you abnormal sperm count, can cause nausea, and even…