ABSTRACT: Simplistic conventional models predict that a greater mass of lead will be released from lead pipes exposed to higher velocity and flow durations. However, if galvanic Pb-Cu connections are present, or if a highly protective Pb(IV) scale can be formed, reduced flow can markedly increase the mass of lead release to water and resultant consumer exposure. Three chemical mechanisms were identified that can reduce lead release at higher flow including (1) formation of Pb(IV), (2) potential reversal of Pb:Cu couples, after which galvanic corrosion sacrifices copper and lead is protected, and (3) reduced formation of corrosive microenvironments at lead surfaces in galvanic couples. Potential reversal occurred only in the presence of free chlorine with continuous flow, and it did not occur with chloramine, with intermittent flow, or if orthophosphate was present. For both disinfectants, electrochemical measurements supported a mass balance of lead release demonstrating that a greater total mass of lead release occurred with intermittent flow than with continuous flow.
Environmental Science & Technology 08/2012; 46(20):10941-7. · 4.80 Impact Factor