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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive
(Wastewater Treatment)

by Mike McGinness, EcoShield Environmental Systems, Inc.
October, 2007

Lead Extraction from Carbon Steel

Q. I became aware of the fact that the carbon steel my company uses contains ~.008% lead. Is this lead extractable when the steel is exposed to water?

A. I have been concerned about possible small traces of lead in steel for years myself but have not been able to get any confirmation of its existence or concentration ranges or leachability if and when it is present. The question is how much can be extracted and under what conditions. Sorry but I do not have a simple answer for you.

The best way to find out is to run some tests of your own. The results will depend on the source water, its pH, corrosivity and hardness of the water, and any chemicals added to the water used in the tests as well as the temperature of the water and contact time. Lastly the condition and history of the steel surface can affect the test results as well. If the steel is used in a device in contact with water, any electrolysis effects from the electrical grounding of the system could have added effects as well.

I would appreciate your keeping me informed of what ever you eventually find out as this a current subject of inquiry of my own ever since the EPA lowered the reporting threshold down to 100 lbs of lead processed per year for the Form R reports on annual Toxic releases.


Mike McGinness



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