In May, the Environmental Protection Agency slashed the danger level for lead in drinking water, which had long been criticized as too high, by tenfold, to five parts per billion. But the EPA will let many utilities take a decade or two to comply.
In the interim, because lead can permanently impair mental development in children and cause high blood pressure in adults, the Water Quality Assn. predicts the market for antilead water filters will double, to $1.5 billion, by 1994. To grab some of that, Engelhard Corp. in Iselin, N. J., has developed a porous-ceramic "blotter." This so-called molecular sieve can cut lead contamination to just two parts per billion. Engelhard is working with WaterPik Teledyne on complete household systems. On-the-faucet and under-the-sink versions are projected to cost $50 to $100. Replacement cartridges will run $20 to $40 and last for about six months.