Lead Toxicity in California Water System Three Times Higher Than Flint- Buy a Berkey Water Filter

photo by @gelcream

It can be hard to believe that there is a water crises that may be just as bad if not worse than Flint, MI. However, California has been dealing with an increase in lead levels in their water 3 times higher than Flint for almost a decade. Lead is a neurotoxin heavy metal that is found in water systems through metal water taps, interior water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street. Lead leeches into tap water from the corrosion and dissolving of metal from older fixtures as well as the solder that connects pipes, fixtures and faucets. Lead accumulates in larger amounts when the water sits in these pipe systems for several hours. Exposure to lead that accumulates in the body over time (and even in low levels) has been known to: 

  • Damage brain & central nervous system.
  • Cause learning & behavior problems in children 
  • Cause hearing & speech problems in children 
  • Slow growth & development problems in developing babies and children 
  • Lower IQ & growth stunts in children
  • Anemia & high blood pressure in adults 
  • Increase miscarriage in pregnant women 
  • Decrease kidney, liver & heart function in both children & adults. 
  • Increase reproductive problems in both men & women


Many school districts in Los Angeles have been affected by lead leeching in their water fountains and systems. It was found that 15,000 children younger than the age of 6 had high lead levels in their blood when tested between 2011 to 2015. San Marino alone tested for lead 3 times the levels of Flint alone. Even though Los Angeles has spent $30 million on lead testing and water system repairs over the last decade, there are still over 300 fixtures that remain in use even though they initially tested above the 15 parts per billion limit. There are a reported 29 California neighborhoods that have been exposed to high levels of lead poisoning. Although public schools can voluntarily test their water, they are not required by law to do so. Places like San Francisco, Fresno and Alamada county being hot spots for elevated levels of lead in children, however, tests are unable to determine the source of the lead poisoning. Many officials state that the potential causes include lead-based paint, soil contamination, old piping systems and many of the homes built over 40 years ago. 

 There are some things however that can still be done to reduce the exposure to lead in the water systems. Inside of the home, even though you can replace any structure or brass fixtures that contain galvanized pipes or pipes where lead solder was, the larger system connected to the main source may still be contaminated. Although reverse osmosis is one of the best ways to remove lead from tap water, there are other wonderful and affordable alternatives such as the Berkey home water filtration system. A Berkey purifier can run anywhere from $250-$400 and can filter over 99.99% of viruses, pathogenic bacteria, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and other contaminants from water. It also leaves in the water minerals that your body needs. Spring Water is another safe source of drinking water. Here is a link to their site: https://www.berkeyfilters.com

 Using carbon filters for shower heads can be a great way of reducing lead exposure to our skin which is the largest absorbing organ in our bodies. As for bath water, even though there are chlorine removal systems via carbon faucet filter, there are no filters at the moment that can remove lead. 

 However, there are a few things that can be added to bath water to help reduce exposure to toxins such as: 

  • Vitamin C to help neutralize chlorine (which may help heavy metals bind to cells) Both ascorbic acid and sodium ascorbate can be used in powder form. A teaspoon or two is enough for tub full of water, wait 5 minutes to activate. 
  • Epsom Salts, Himalayan salts and Magnesium Flakes help flush toxins, reduce inflammation and activate enzymes that may help remove heavy metals from the system. Add a few cups of Epsom and/or magnesium to a tub full of water and a few spoons of Himalayan Salt. 
  • Bentonite Clay is known to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals, chemicals and impurities. A 1/2 cup of bentonite clay to a tub full of water is sufficient, avoid any metal utensils when handling. 

 Also be sure to reference the Heavy Metal Detox blog for more information on how to help remove heavy metals from the system safely. 

By Jena and Natasha M