Aluminum may affect lead levels in drinking water

Researchers find aluminum in water could affect lead’s solubility — in certain cases

photo: Daniel Giammar
IMAGE: After a series of experiments, research led by Professor Daniel Giammar at the McKelvey School of Engineering have found that aluminum does have a small but important effect on lead’s solubility in water. Credit: Washington University in St. Louis

It is not uncommon to find aluminum in municipal water systems. It’s part of a treatment chemical used in some water treatment processes. Recently, however, it has been discovered in lead scale, deposits that form on lead water pipes.

The aluminum presence in pipes is both unsurprising and, in the quantities researchers saw in water pipes, not a health concern, according to Daniel Giammar, the Walter E. Browne Professor of Environmental Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. But no one had looked at how it might affect the larger municipal system.

In particular, Giammar wanted to find out, "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.

Giammar and a team ran several experiments and found that, in a lab setting, aluminum does have a small but important effect on lead’s solubility […]

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Aluminum may affect lead levels in drinking water
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Aluminum often is found in municipal water systems, typically at levels low enough not to be a concern. But no one - until now - knew of its effect on lead.
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EurekAlert
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