The unexpected way lead gets in your drinking water

Your drinking water could be full of dangerous heavy metals. Especially if you live in an old house.

Many heavy metals lurking in your drinking water are known carcinogens.

Take aluminum, for example.

Despite the fact that we wrap our food in aluminum foil without even thinking, aluminum is hazardous to our health. Exposure to aluminum is linked to breast cancer, nerve damage and even Alzheimer’s disease

Cosmetics, food packaging and cooking utensils are exposing you and your family to this heavy metal. Research has also linked it to the formation of beta-amyloid plaques, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

And then there’s lead. It’s no secret that this heavy metal can ruin your health.

Even in small amounts, lead in the blood has been linked to a range of symptoms in adults including cognitive decline, kidney disease, anemia and hypertension.

But according to recent research, when lead and aluminum get together in your drinking water (and they do!), the toxic impact of lead is increased tenfold.

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Aluminum loosens lead from pipes into your drinking water

If you live in a house built before 1986, there’s a good chance your water pipes are lined with lead deposits known as lead scale.

Not only that, but the service lines that bring the water to your home are probably made of lead, too.

Daniel Giammar, professor of environmental engineering at McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, had some suspicions about the effect that aluminum in tap water was having on the solubility of this lead scale (how easily it dissolves into your tap water).

It’s pretty common to find aluminum in water that comes from municipal water systems. Aluminum is part of a treatment chemical used in some water treatment processes.

The amount of aluminum found in lead pipes is generally not a health concern, says Giammar. But he had another question…

What is that aluminum doing to the behavior of the lead in the scale?

As long as the lead is bound to the scale, it doesn’t enter the water system. But if it becomes softer and more easily dissolved, it could enter the water that ultimately reaches your kitchen sink and your glass.

Giammar and his team ran several simple experiments. To a jar of water with a strip of lead in it, they added aluminum, phosphate and a combination of the two.

Aluminum alone didn’t change the lead’s solubility. When phosphate alone was added, the concentration of lead in the water decreased from about 100 micrograms per liter to less than one.

When aluminum and phosphate were added together, the concentration of lead in the water was higher, about 10 micrograms per liter.

“This tells us what our next experiment should be,” said Giammar. His lab will do these experiments with real lead pipes next.

“This showed us things that were surprising. Some people would have thought that aluminum wasn’t doing anything because it’s inert. But then in our work, we saw that it actually affects lead solubility.”

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And that means it could affect your drinking water.

Is there lead in your water?

There are two ways to get the answer to this question…

One is to contact your local water supply company or wait for the annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR), also known as a water quality report, that they are obligated to make available by July 1 of each year. You can see a sample CCR on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Your other option is to buy a test kit and test your own water.

You can find a local certified laboratory here and deliver your water sample. From listening to friends who have done this, it shouldn’t take more than a week to get your results.

If you suspect or have confirmation of lead in your water, you’ll want to install a reverse osmosis filter.

Carbon filters will not reliably remove toxic metals from your drinking water. Reverse osmosis removes dissolved solids from a solution. It uses household water pressure to push tap water through a semi-permeable membrane.

How to detox heavy metals from your body

In the meantime, you may want to also consider detoxing. When it comes to detoxing lead, there is a long history of use with EDTA chelation.

Chelation therapy removes lead and other heavy metals from the blood using the synthetic amino acid known as EDTA (ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid).

First patented in 1938 as a chelating agent, EDTA is approved for use in treating lead and other heavy metal poisonings. Chelation therapy removes heavy metals and minerals from the blood, such as lead, iron, copper and calcium by excreting them in urine. EDTA is also used as a food preserver.

In a clinical setting, EDTA is administered intravenously during chelation therapy, but it is also available in supplement form.

A University of Michigan study that measured the excretion of heavy metals in 14 patients after just one dose of oral calcium disodium EDTA showed lead excretion increased by 350 percent.

Editor’s note: Have you heard of EDTA chelation therapy? It was developed originally to remove lead and other contaminants, including heavy metals, from the body. Its uses now run the gamut from varicose veins to circulation. Click here to discover Chelation: Natural Miracle for Protecting Your Heart and Enhancing Your Health!


  1. Aluminum may affect lead levels in drinking water — EurekaAlert
  2. Ground Water and Drinking Water — United States Environmental Protection Agency
  3. Aluminum in drinking water: Guideline technical document for consultation — Government of Canada
  4. Chelation: Getting the lead out — Easy Health Options
  5. It’s time to get the lead out of your water and your body — Easy Health Options
Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.