Preventing lead spread

While lead pipes were banned decades ago, they still supply millions of American households daily with drinking water amid risks of corrosion and leaching that can cause developmental and neurological effects in young children.

One common abatement: Dig up old lead lines and replace a portion of them with another metal, such as copper. However, this technique can dislodge lead particulates and release them into the water supply. Furthermore, partially replacing the lead pipe connection instead of entirely exchanging it is problematic.

A team of engineers at Washington University in St. Louis has developed a new way to model and track where lead particles might be transported during the partial-replacement process, in an effort to keep the water supply safer.

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