The recent identification of elevated levels of lead in Flint, Michigan’s drinking water have drawn attention to the use of lead in the drinking water infrastructure of the United States. However, plumbing used for the conveyance of drinking water has been constructed of lead for millennia. Indeed, “plumbing” derives its name from the Latin word for lead, “plumbum.” This article is intended to provide an introduction to the long history of lead in drinking water infrastructure, the complexities of its potential release into water, and associated management considerations.
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