Lead

Chemical symbol/abbreviations:

Pb, Pb2+

Adverse human impacts:

Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of human health effects including learning disabilities, kidney problems and high blood pressure when ingested.[i]
Children under seven years old are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing.[ii]

Adverse impacts on the environment:

Unlike other trace elements, lead is neither essential nor beneficial for living organisms.[iii] Organolead compounds are generally more toxic than inorganic lead compounds.  Adverse effects of lead in water on aquatic species occur at concentrations of 1.0 – 5.1 ug/l and include reduced survival, impaired reproduction and reduced growth.[iv]
 Lead poisoning in birds occurs at higher levels (measured in milligrams per kilogram of body weight) usually from ingestion of lead shots.[v] A bird with lead poisoning will have physical and behavioral changes, including loss of balance, gasping, tremors, and impaired ability to fly.[vi]

Stormwater Treatment to Remove Lead

Lead in Stormwater FAQs

How does lead get into stormwater runoff?2019-07-26T15:30:22+00:00

Lead is a soft, dull-grey metal that is extracted from ore deep within the earth’s crust.[viii] It has a shiny metallic luster after being freshly cut, and is highly malleable and corrosion resistant.[x] It also has a high propensity for adsorbing x-rays and gamma rays.[xi] Lead has the highest atomic mass of all other stable, non-radioactive elements. Lead is found in both particulate (Pb) and dissolved forms (Pb2+) in industrial stormwater runoff.

Lead is used for its unique characteristics although it is now less widely used in domestic products because of its toxicity to humans.[xii] Domestic uses of lead in gasoline and paint have stopped in the U.S. and other countries. Common uses of lead today are lead acid batteries as used in automobiles, bullets and shotgun shot, fishing sinkers, industrial grade and non-domestic paint, boat keels, radiation shielding, and soldering.[xiii]

Lead enters the environment through the manufacture and use of consumer products, and by contamination of soils and water. Groundwater can become contaminated by mine dewatering operations.[xvii] Other examples of contamination sources include lead-based paints on buildings pre-dating the 1970’s.[xviii] and industries that manufacture, recycle, demolish, or refurbish products contain lead. Lead in these forms can make its way into waterways and human freshwater drinking sources through stormwater runoff.

Raw and formed lead (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Why should lead be removed from industrial stormwater runoff?2019-07-26T15:31:14+00:00

Lead should be removed from stormwater runoff because low levels of it in drinking water and in the environment can have severe health consequences for humans and wildlife. Ingested even at low levels, lead may cause a range of human health effects including learning disabilities, kidney problems and high blood pressure.[i] Children under seven-years-old are most at risk because their brains are still developing.[ii]

Unlike other trace elements, lead is neither essential nor beneficial for living organisms.[iii] Lead compounded with organic elements are generally more toxic than inorganic lead compounds. Adverse effects of lead in water on aquatic species occur at concentrations of 1.0 – 5.1 ug/l and include reduced survival, impaired reproduction and reduced growth.[iv]

Lead poisoning in birds occurs at higher levels (measured in milligrams per kilogram of body weight) usually from ingestion of lead shots.[v] A bird with lead poisoning will have physical and behavioral changes, including loss of balance, gasping, tremors, and impaired ability to fly.[vi]

How is lead removed from industrial stormwater?2019-07-23T16:38:12+00:00

Lead can be present in stormwater in both particulate and dissolved states. Enhanced, passive media filtration can be used to remove particulate lead. If further reduction is necessary to remove dissolved lead, advanced polishing technologies can be used. Both types of BMPs combined in a treatment train will remove total lead from stormwater prior to discharge to help facilities meet benchmarks or NALs. The Aquip passive media filter and the Purus metals polisher combined offer an advanced level of lead removal from stormwater. Learn more about our stormwater media filtration and polishing technologies.

How is lead removed from rooftop runoff?2019-07-23T16:37:05+00:00

Lead in rooftop runoff is typically found in a dissolved state. Dissolved lead can be removed from rooftop stormwater runoff by running it through an advanced, passive media filter connected to a downspout. Our Zinc-B-Gone downspout units provide this advanced level of rooftop stormwater runoff treatment. Find out more about our downspout filtration units here.

In mammals, adverse effects of lead ingestion occur at levels ranging from 0.005 -5.0 mg Pb/kg body weight.

Background:

Lead is a soft dull-grey metal that is extracted from ore deep within the earth’s crust.[viii]

It has a shiny metallic luster after being freshly cut and is highly malleable and corrosion resistant.[x]
It also has a high propensity for adsorbing x-rays and gamma rays.[xi] Lead has the highest atomic mass of all other stable, non-radioactive elements.
Lead is used for its unique characteristics although it is now less widely used in domestic products because of its toxicity to humans.[xii] Domestic uses of lead in gasoline and paint have stopped in the U.S. and other countries. Lead is still widely used for car batteries, pigments, ammunition, cable sheathing, weights for lifting, weight belts for diving, lead crystal glass, radiation protection and in some solders.[xiii]
The United States is the world’s third largest lead producer creating 15% of global production.[xiv]
Most domestic lead is yielded from five mines in Missouri plus five mines in Alaska, Idaho, and Washington. [xv]

U.S. EPA recommended water quality criteria:

Freshwater – Aquatic Organisms (Total Recoverable; pH 6.5-9.0)Saltwater– Aquatic OrganismsHuman Health for the consumption of
Acute (µg/L)Chronic (µg/L)Acute (µg/L)Chronic (µg/L)Water + Organism (µg/L)Organism Only (µg/L)
652.52108.1nana
Lead mining is done predominantly using underground mines which are several hundred feet within the ground.[xvi]
Lead enters the environment and human contact through the use and manufacturing of consumer products, and by contaminated soils and water. Groundwater can become contaminated by mine dewatering operations.[xvii]
Lead-based paints on buildings pre-dating the 1970’s can contaminate soils in the vicinity.[xviii]  Industries that manufacture, recycle, demolish, or refurbish products contain lead are likely to release lead into the environment.

Appendices

[i] U.S. EPA, Lead in Drinking Water https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead (last visited July 26, 2019).

[ii] U.S. EPA, Lead in Drinking Water https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead (last visited July 26, 2019).

[iii] Ronald Eisler, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., Lead hazards to fish, wildlife, and invertebrates: a synoptic review (1988) available at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/infobase/eisler/chr_14_lead.pdf (llast visited July 26, 2019).

[iv] Eisler, supra.

[v] Eisler, supra.

[vi] U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bald Eagle Lead Exposure (2014) https://www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/Warneretal2014.pdf (last visited July 26, 2019).

[vii] Eisler, supra.

[viii] U.S. EPA, Water Topics, https://www.epa.gov/environmental-topics/water-topics (last visited July 26, 2019).

[ix] Hyperphysics, Lead, http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/pertab/Pb.html#c1 (last visited July 26, 2019)

[x] Hyperphysics, supra.

[xi] Hyperphysics, supra.

[xii]  Science Progress, A Brief History in Lead Regulation, https://scienceprogress.org/2008/10/a-brief-history-of-lead-regulation/ (last visited July 26, 2019)

[xiii] Royal Society of Chemistry, Periodic Table http://www.rsc.org/periodic-table/element/82/lead (last visited July 26, 2019).

[xiv] U.S. Geological Survey, National Minerals Information Center, Lead Statistics and Information https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/prd-wret/assets/palladium/production/mineral-pubs/lead/myb1-2015-lead.pdf (last visited July 26, 2019).

[xv] U.S. Geological Survey, National Minerals Information Center, Lead Statistics and Information https://prd-wret.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/atoms/files/mcs-2019-lead.pdf (last visited July 26, 2019).

[xvi] Doe Run Co., What We do: Mining & Milling, https://doerun.com/what-we-do/mining-milling/ (last visited July 26, 2019).

[xvii] U.S. Geological Survey, Geohydrological and biological investigations associated with lead-zinc exploration and mining in Southeastern Missouri  https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2002/0005/report.pdf (last visited July 26, 2019).

[xviii] U.S. EPA., Protect Your Family from Exposures to Lead, https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead (last visited July 26, 2019).

Aquip® industrial stormwater filtration system uses an innovative enhanced media filtration process to effectively remove soluble and insoluble aluminum and other metals as well as oils, suspended solids, organics and nutrients from industrial stormwater runoff.

Purus® Stormwater Polishing System provides the most advanced level of stormwater treatment, and is designed for challenging stormwater conditions or targeted polluant removal.

2019-07-26T15:38:09+00:00