Lead in Tap Water from University District Region, Columbus, OH: Evaluation of Lead and Copper Rule and Revisions Sampling Guidance Across Service Line Compositions

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The Ohio State University

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Lead is a potent toxin that can cause a myriad of health effects, most notably adverse effects in pregnancy and neurological changes in children. Due to the health effects of lead exposure, regulations are in place to minimize lead exposure to the public. This study focuses on lead concentrations of tap water in Columbus, OH, and how the presence or absence of a lead service line impacts household tap water lead levels. The change in sampling directives from the EPA's Lead and Copper Rule (1991) to the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (2021) were also examined, taking both the first and fifth liters of water for analysis. Buildings were selected for sampling in north-central Columbus to include a mix of service line compositions according to published data from the Columbus Department of Public Utilities. Samples were collected using the clean hands/dirty hands technique of trace element sampling, and then analyzed for lead using an ICP-MS. Major cations and anions were also analyzed in the tap water samples. Differences in lead concentration between buildings serviced by lead lines and by non-lead lines were not significant, which may suggest that Columbus's corrosion control treatments are working. Changes in lead levels from the first to the fifth liter were significant in non-lead pipes, with liter one having higher concentrations of lead. These changes were not significant in lead pipes, though notable outliers of 1.09 μg/L and 0.38 μg/L were present in liter five. Our previous work on tap water from numerous Ohio State University campus buildings indicates low, but measurable amounts of lead in all samples with a mean concentration of 1.2 μg/L (n=20). Off-campus buildings had lower levels than the on-campus samples, with a mean concentration of 0.13 μg/L (n=31).


Denman Undergraduate Research Forum, Third Place in Earth & Beyond


Lead, Pb, Geochemistry, Drinking water, Tap water, Environmental chemistry