Do Activated Carbon Filters Remove Lead From Water?

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Lead is one of the most dangerous elements once it gets into contact with a human being’s body. When it does and starts to cause havoc on one’s body, this is what we call lead poisoning.

There are many ways in which lead poisoning can occur. One of the most common ways is through inhalation. Lead can contaminate the air of a particular area, and once the residents inhale it; they are done.

Do Activated Carbon Filters Remove Lead From Water?
Do Activated Carbon Filters Remove Lead From Water?

You can also get lead deposits in contaminated food products. Lead poisoning also occurs through drinking lead-contaminated water. Although it is not popular, but it is something that happens.

One of the questions that is probably going through your head right now is, how does it occur? Well, you should not worry at all. We are going to elaborate on lead poisoning through water and much more.

What is Lead?

Lead is a blue-grey metal that is usually found beneath the ground in various parts of the world. When freshly cut, lead is usually blue in color. The color slowly changes to grey once it is exposed to air in the environment. It is a heavy metal and denser than other metals in the market. It is soft in nature and can be molded into different shapes and designs.

So how does this mineral get close to human beings? The answer to this question is simple; lead is used in making consumer products. One of the items made of lead is a car battery. The wires you have at home probably have lead. This is because lead is useful in making wire coating to prevent them from corrosion. Let us not forget that lead is also used in making ammunition and water pipes.

How Lead Gets in Water?

Now that we know a little bit about lead and its uses let us shed light on how it gets into the water.

Discharge from Factories

All items made of lead are made in a factory. Obviously, to make an item made of lead, you need lead. The contamination now happens when these factories properly discharge waste. Factory owners know that there are strict guidelines and rules on the discharge of waste. The rules are more stringent when dealing with toxic substances like lead.

There are factory owners who comply with the law. On the other side, there are factory owners who do not.  It is through such negligence that the environment gets contaminated with lead-waste. Specifically, you may find that these owners deposited lead-waste in water sources. Once people drink that water, their lives are in jeopardy.


Some people do not have to fetch water from the river or lake. Such people usually get access to water through their taps. If you are one of these people and think that you are safe well, you are not. Lead can still get into your water. The most common way lead get into tap water is through the pipes.

As earlier stated, lead is used in making water pipes. With time, the pipes get old, and they start to corrode. It is during this time that the lead leaches into the water. This happens when the water passes through to get to the tap.

One thing you should know is that running water picks up less lead than still water. This is because, with still water, the lead has time to leech into the water. When it comes to running water, the lead has little or no time at all to infuse into the water as it is moving. The metal used in faucets can also contribute to the lead-contamination.

Removal of Lead Using Carbon Filters

Now to answer the question, do activated carbon filters filter out the lead? The answer is yes. Activated carbon filters have the capability of filtering out lead from water. First of all, you need to know that carbon filter works by adsorption. Adsorption is where the carbon particles attract impurities and remove them

When it comes to activated carbon, the process of separation is taken to a different level. Activated carbon is a type of carbon which has small pores in between particles. The low volume pores increase the surface area for adsorption. It is the attraction to impurities and low volume pores that make it a great filter.

There is no doubt that activated carbon is great in the removal of lead from water. However, some factors affect its efficiency. One of these factors is the amount of activated carbon in use. You should know that activated carbon adsorbs to the surface. When you have a small amount of carbon, the surface area for filtration is quickly depleted. Therefore ensure that you have large amounts to increase the effectiveness.

The thickness of the carbon also plays a role in determining the effectiveness of the filter. When a carbon has more contact time with an impurity, the chances of it getting removed are much higher. One of the ways of ensuring this is through using a thicker carbon filter. The thicker the filter, the more effective lead removal from the water will be.

Effects of Drinking Water with Lead Contamination

Since we are putting much emphasis on the removal of lead from water, it is imperative for you to know why. One of the ways of explaining this is by looking at the effects. Here are some of the effects of drinking lead-contaminated water;

On Children

  • Slow Growth of Brains – lead-contaminated water makes a child’s brain to grow at a very slow rate.
  • Reduced IQ – the brain determines a person’s IQ. If it stops growing, that means that the child’s IQ will suffer immensely.
  • Stunted growth – lead-contaminated water affects the growth of a child’s body. He/he may suffer from stunted growth.
  • Attention Disorders – drinking water with lead leads to attention issues in children. He/she may also fail to concentrate in school.

On Adults

  • Kidney Problem – once you intake water with lead, you are said to have suffered from lead poisoning. It is lead poisoning that causes a renal lesion. Therefore you will start experiencing a wide range of kidney issues.  One of the issues one may face is kidney failure.
  • High Blood Pressure – drinking lead-water increases your blood lead levels. When your blood lead levels increase, so does your high blood pressure. You, therefore, get a condition known as hypertension.

The overall goal of removal of lead in water is to ensure nobody is ever affected.


Lead is a destructive metal to the human body. For instance, lead can cause brain damage to a child. It can also make the child have stunted growth and attention disorders. As an adult, you may get hypertension from drinking lead-contaminated water.

It is also possible for you to get kidney problems. Therefore, all mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that it does not get into our system. One way of doing so is to prevent lead from reaching our water.

In the event it does, we should have mechanisms of removing it like using carbon filters. Through adsorption, carbon filters can easily get rid of lead in water.


This is George, the Aquaman, editor at AquaMantra. I'm a water quality analyst by profession, and used to work at one of the largest water bottler company.
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