Question: How can I test my water for Lead?
Answer: There are multiple ways…
There are a few different ways you can get your water tested for Lead (Pb). [Please read the caveats below the list after you read the list!]
Ways to test the water in your home or school for Lead
- Call your local Health Department (city, state or county). In the wake of the scandal in Flint, Michigan (and even before that happened), many local health departments now offer free water testing. Some have income limitations to qualify for the free testing, and others do not. Either way, it’s just a phone call and often the best place to start.
- Hire a professional Hazard Assessor to come test your home for Lead (Pb) – and make sure that home test includes water testing. A home hazard assessment that includes water testing has the advantage of testing ALL of your water sources (not just your kitchen faucet), so if you can afford professional testing, this is a good option for getting the most comprehensive testing.
- Buy a DIY kit to test the water yourself. Many of the DIY kits (from Home Depot and elsewhere) should be avoided — because their lower detection threshold is too high to be useful. Said another way: a lot of the home kits do not test to the very low levels required to be genuinely protective of human health. I currently recommend only one brand of DIY water test kit, because it is the only kit I know of that tests your water down to 5 ppb or below. Many of the DIY kits have a low threshold of detection of 15 ppb or higher. The brand I recommend (and have always recommended) are the water test kits available through CertifiedKit.com. I am also friendly with the owner of the company and am confident in their testing methodologies & the lab they use (a level of confidence I do not have for other DIY kits.)
A discount code for my readers
#BONUS: I have convinced my friends over at CertifiedKit.com to give my readers a discount [citing razor-thin margins, they were only able to offer 5% – but these days every penny truly counts!] on any test kit purchased through their site (they have kits that allow you to correctly collect dust wipe samples [that then get mailed back to their lab for digestive analysis for detection & measurement of Lead content in household dust], mold kits, and other options that folks have asked me about over the years.)
Disclaimer: Rest assured that I have been recommending this product for YEARS before they agreed to extend a small discount to my readers – so don’t assume this to be an (all-to-common) example of a blogger recommending a product just because they have some financial relationship with a vendor*.
To check out their water test kit click the image above. If you choose to buy one of their kits use the “SAVE5” code at checkout for a 5% discount. *For each kit purchased using this discount code, CertifiedKit.com will also make a small contribution [about 0.6% of your purchase price] in support of my advocacy work.
(important things to understand when doing any water testing in your home):
- Although the current Federal standard for Lead-in-water toxicity for water coming from your tap is that water that tests positive at 15 parts per billion (ppb) or higher is toxic to human health. [LINK],
- the Federal standard for Lead-in-water toxicity for bottled water is that water that tests positive at 5 (five) parts per billion (ppb) or higher is toxic to human health(!) [LINK]
- The bottom line (in my opinion): you really want ANY water testing you have done to give you results with low levels at LEAST as low as 5 parts per billion. An acceptable low threshold reading on a water test is that your water test result is “less than 5 ppb“.
- If you water test gives you a result that says your water is “less than 15 ppb” you want to get a more accurate test.
- MOST free water tests available (from the Health Department) will only have a low threshold of detection of 15 ppb (or sometimes even 20 or 25 ppb). This is not acceptable, because if you water is “less than 15 ppb” it could still be 10 or 12 or 14 ppb – and current science has determined that that is not a level of lead in water that is genuinely protective of human health.
- Please do your research in ADVANCE of getting your water tested (ask the Health Department or your inspector or thoroughly read the packaging on a home test kit you decide to use) to make sure the test you are using tests at least down to 5 ppb (or lower.)
- The reason I like the test kits from CertifiedKit.com is they generally give a low threshold result of “less than 5 ppb” [so you will know if your water is positive for lead at levels as low as 5 or 6 ppb.]
That’s it for now….
I would love it if you could also let me know if you order a kit from CertifiedKit.com or if you choose to go another route. (Maybe just comment below on this post?) If you need help finding a local Hazard Assessor to do a more compressive set of tests on your home (or on your child’s daycare or school), please consider joining The Lead (Pb) Group on Facebook and asking the other members (who are all over the country, and in fact, all over the world!) for a recommendation in your area.
As always, thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
Please let men now if you have any questions.
Paul Schwartz, Campaign for Lead Free Water says
Hi Tamara, could we have a conversation about lead water testing and the issues of erattic (variable release) of lead particles and how they are designed to be missed by current testing protocols, how the 15 ppb action level is NOT a health based number and how the peer-reviewed science indicates that the test kits and health department lead water and standard one and two draw sample testing leads to false assurances about safety. Here is a science papers that explore these issues from the Campaign for Lead Free Water website: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412020322145 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10661-016-5182-x To see 13 peer-reviewed studies on various critical aspect of lead in water see: https://www.campaignforleadfreewater.org/the-science and for a discussion of the top 10 Myths & Facts about lead in water see: https://leadsafeworld.com.au/media-page/lanv18n2-contents/lanv18n2-2-top-10-myths/ please feel free to reach out to me by email, text or phone number. firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-279-0438