Environmental Tests : Lead In Water

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned about lead in drinking water, in particular when children reside in the home. Although most homes have very low levels of lead in their drinking water, some homes have lead levels above the EPA action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water (mg/L). Since you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way of knowing if there are harmful quantities of lead in your drinking water.

Lead seldom occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Primarily, lead enters drinking water from the water distribution system and household plumbing. These materials include lead pipes, lead-based solder and older plumbing fixtures. In 1986, Congress restricted the use of lead solder and restricted the lead content of faucets, pipes and other plumbing materials. Despite these restrictions, many houses, old and new, still have elevated levels of lead contamination in their water systems.

In homes with potential lead sources, The Department of Public Health (DPH) suggests testing for lead at least once and in particular when planning pregnancy or a child under the age of 6 resides in the house. Additionally, if low PH is identified test every 3-5 years. Testing should include a “First Draw sample” before water is run to test the plumbing and fixtures in the house and a “Flushed sample” after the plumbing system has been run to test the water prior to the house.

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