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Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Lead?


*Reviewed by Ken Christopher, Senior Vice President at Rayne Dealership Corporation

When it comes to water quality, taste and hardness may immediately come to mind as potential issues. But it’s also important to consider the safety of your home water supply.

Whether you’re already aware of high lead levels or you’re just starting to investigate water filtration options and drinking water systems, you’ve probably heard something about reverse osmosis. 

Reverse osmosis is a water purification method in which water is forced through the semipermeable membrane. Tiny pores in the RO membrane allow water to pass through, separating it from potentially harmful contaminants. 

You might be wondering “does reverse osmosis remove minerals” and “does reverse osmosis remove lead from water?” In short, yes it does. But how does it work? Continue reading to learn about the dangers of lead poisoning and how reverse osmosis can guarantee safe hydration.

The Dangers of Lead Poisoning

Lead is a heavy metal found in the earth’s crust. Although lead’s toxicity is now widely recognized, for some time lead was considered a “miracle metal”.1

That means that lead exposure can be difficult to avoid.

  • Lead is highly adaptable and has been used throughout the world since Ancient Rome, where lead was used to line aqueducts.
  • After the start of the industrial revolution, the lead industry named lead the “useful metal” because it could be used in most any commercial product.
  • Lead and lead compounds have been used in a significant number of household products including paints, pipes, furniture, and even cosmetics.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there is no safe level of lead exposure for children.

In children, lead exposure can cause:

  • Learning problems
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lowered IQ
  • Slowed growth

Lead affects adults somewhat differently. In adults, lead exposure can cause cardiovascular effects, hypertension, and reproductive problems.2

With serious effects like these, no one should risk having lead contaminate their drinking water.

Reverse Osmosis Systems starting at only $25/mo. Try before you buy!

When Should I Be Concerned About Lead Exposure?

Regulation around lead exposure has come a long way.

  • If you’re worried about lead in your water, know that the EPA has established the maximum contaminant level for lead which is zero.
  • After the Safe Drinking Water Act passed in 2011, water sources and purification processes have been tested often and with scrutiny.

But while your local water supply may be lead-free, that doesn’t mean the water that flows from your taps would test negative as well.

Assessing  Your Home

The most common way for lead to enter drinking water is through the corrosion of lead pipes and fixtures. Although human skin does not absorb lead in water, when lead is consumed, it bioaccumulates over time. 

Lead is more commonly found in older homes. If your home is 30 years old or older, it may be helpful to look into its history and the building materials used throughout its life.

Do you believe your home may have lead pipes? Luckily, there are a few ways to tell whether or not you are at risk.

  • If your home was built before 1986, it is likely to have lead pipes and fixtures.3
  • Alternatively, if your home was built after 2000, your pipes are probably made of copper, PVC, or ABS.4

Fortunately, modern water filtration methods including reverse osmosis are extremely effective at ensuring safe drinking water.

How Does Reverse Osmosis Remove Lead?

Reverse osmosis separates two liquids across a membrane. On one side of the reverse osmosis membrane, you have contaminated water, which is purified as it is pushed through to the other side. 

It may be helpful to think of a coffee filter. When you make coffee with a filter, only the liquid coffee passes through. The ground beans, meanwhile, are left behind.

Because reverse osmosis removes contaminants and impurities from the water so effectively, it’s become an increasingly popular water purification method. 

Beyond lead, reverse osmosis filtration can also remove:

  • Fluoride
  • Arsenic
  • Mercury
  • Iron

The reverse osmosis systems or RO system usually have a pore size of 0.0001 micron. This means that it is highly effective at removing bacteria and viruses from your drinking water.5

Most in-home reverse osmosis systems have a pre and post water filter. 

  • The pre-filter prevents any sediment in the water from passing through the membrane The post reverse osmosis water filter captures harder-to-trap particles like chlorine

Note that a reverse osmosis system, though efficient, will lose a small amount of water each time contaminants are separated and flushed out. This “flushing out” ensures that dangerous contaminants such as lead are not left in the water after it has been processed.

Prevent Lead Contamination with a Rayne Water System

At Rayne Water, our goal is to bring clean water to your home. Whether your concern is lead, minerals, or bacteria, our reverse osmosis systems can guarantee clean, drinkable water.

We have top-of-the-line residential and commercial reverse osmosis systems available. Our Rayne Clear system is a standard reverse osmosis filtration system, the Rayne Pure Plus is a four-stage reverse osmosis system, and the  Rayne Eradicator is the best and most efficient reverse osmosis system we’ve found. Which is right for you? Get in touch today to find out.

If you have any concerns about the drinkability of your water, we would love to be your solution.

Find a location near you!


  1. NPR. Before It Was Dangerous, Lead Was The Miracle Metal That We Loved
  2. EPA. Learn about Lead.
  3. EPA. Protect Your Family from Sources of Lead
  4. Accurate Plumbing. What Material Are Your Pipes Made Of? 
  5. CDC. Technical Information on Home Water Treatment

Expert Reviewer – Ken Christopher