3 Common Chemical Additives Municipalities Use To Control Lead Getting Into The Drinking Water Supply

Posted on: 3 March 2016

The situation in Flint, Michigan, has given rise to the concern about water safety in many communities across the United States. The main issue is that water from the Flint River is so corrosive that it allowed lead used in the pipes and solder to build the municipal water lines to filter into the drinking water supply. A part of the problem was that chemicals commonly used to reduce the corrosiveness of the water weren't used before the water was treated and sent to homes and businesses. The corrosive nature of the Flint River water is what caused the lead in pipe and solder to dissolve and leach into the drinking water supply. The use of a corrosive inhibitors vary by region due to things like the average temperature, pH levels, and dissolved solids counts, among other things. Here are 3 of the most common corrosive inhibitors used by municipalities in the U.S. to make the drinking water safe.

Fluoride Silicates

Fluoride has not only been shown to prevent and reduce tooth decay, but it can also reduce the chance that lead will leak into your drinking supply. Fluoride is added to water by roughly 92% of all municipalities in the U.S. by using fluorosilicates. Silicates are salts minerals that can buildup on the surface of the pipes. As the silicate buildup deepens, a crust is formed that creates a barrier between lead pipes, solder, and the drinking water supply. This barrier protects the drinking water supply going to homes and businesses.

Sodium Silicates

Sodium silicates can also be added to the drinking water supply to keep pipes from corroding. The sodium silicates work in a similar way to fluoride silicates in that the sodium silicates react with the lead and create a barrier between the lead and the water drinking supply.


Municipalities may decide to use orthophosphates to protect the drinking water. Orthophosphates are an inorganic phosphate and are another form of salt that can leave deposits on the surface of metals (inorganic phosphates are commonly used in industrial applications as a rust prohibitor). The orthophosphate will leave a protective film on the pipes to prevent lead from getting into the drinking water supply.

In many cases, the orthophosphate will be blended with other phosphates to clean the surface of the pipe of old pipes first. Polyphosphates can produce a scrubbing action to remove any bio-film formations from the surface of the pipes. The orthophosphates compound is then better able to cling to the surface of the pipe to create a protective barrier.

If you want your water treated beyond how it is already treated, contact a water treatment company, like Imperial Water Conditioning Co.