Lead in Your Hotel's Drinking Water

You Could be Liable, so Why Risk It?

By Larry Gillanders Co-founder, Ace DuraFlo Systems | June 11, 2017

The lead leaching problem in America is more complex and widespread than most general news organizations would make you think. Lead pipes are found worldwide, as well as throughout the United States, especially in some of our oldest cities. Thousands of years ago, lead became a choice material for water pipes, because it's found in many regions, it's malleable and it's extremely durable. Now, many countries are left with lead supply pipes that release dangerous amounts of lead into the water. When consumed, lead can cause serious adverse health effects, especially for children, and can even be fatal.

The American Water Association estimated in 2016 that there are 6.5 million lead service pipes still in use in the United States, which are found running from the city water main to homes and buildings. However, it's very important to stress that lead leaching does not only occur solely as a result of lead pipes – a water supply system may also contain several types of lead contributors, all which can release toxic levels of lead. This information is key. In other words, you are incorrect if you have been thinking: My hotel's pipes are copper or galvanized steel, so my hotel is safe from dangerous lead levels. The problem does not start and end with the underground service pipes bringing water to your property.

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Lead contributors include lead solder (copper pipes often have lead solder), galvanized steel pipes and copper alloy fittings like brass fittings. Lead solder was commonly used until about 1986, favored by plumbers for its ease of application. Galvanized pipes are known to attract lead particulates. Brass fittings until recently contained high lead content in their make-up. Lead service lines (LSLs) are often found delivering water to buildings completed before 1950, galvanized steel pipes were commonly included in buildings constructed before the 1960s and copper pipes were commonly installed in buildings between the 1960s and 1990s. Still, no matter when your hotel was built, it's important to find out exactly what types of water supply pipes lay within it, as well as what type and the extent of the use of lead contributors are found in the water supply systems.

A Bad Reaction

Lead is released into drinking water through corrosion. When water interacts with lead or lead contributors, it causes a chemical reaction that dissolves the metal and releases lead. Water with high acidity or low levels of minerals is particularly known to accelerate lead leaching.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.