Partial Lead Service Line Replacement Should be Avoided

Deshommes E, Laroche L, Deveau D, Nour S, Prévost M. Short- and Long-Term Lead Release after Partial Lead Service Line Replacements in a Metropolitan Water Distribution System. Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Aug 9. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.7b01720.

Thirty-three households were monitored in a full-scale water distribution system, to investigate the impact of recent (<2 yr) or old partial lead service line replacements (PLSLRs). Total and particulate lead concentrations were measured using repeat sampling over a period of 1-20 months. Point-of-entry filters were installed to capture sporadic release of particulate lead from the lead service lines (LSLs). Mean concentrations increased immediately after PLSLRs and erratic particulate lead spikes were observed over the 18 month post-PLSLR monitoring period. The mass of lead released during this time frame indicates the occurrence of galvanic corrosion and scale destabilization. System-wide, lead concentrations were however lower in households with PLSLRs as compared to those with no replacement, especially for old PLSLRs. Nonetheless, 61% of PLSLR samples still exceeded 10 μg/L, reflecting the importance of implementing full LSL replacement and efficient risk communication. Acute concentrations measured immediately after PLSLRs demonstrate the need for appropriate flushing procedures to prevent lead poisoning.

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