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The Quickest Ways To Test Your Water For Lead

The Quickest Ways To Test Your Water For Lead

Image source: Pixabay.com

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has underscored the need for the monitoring of lead levels in our water supply. In a move to save money in financially strapped Flint, the state moved the city’s water supply source from Detroit to the polluted Flint River. In addition to pollutants in the river water, many of the lines that deliver the water to Flint residents were eroding, leaching lead and other contaminants into the water.

As the finger-pointing in that situation continues, what remains clear is that Americans need to be alert to the problem of old pipes and the dangers they can bring, especially to babies and children. Flint’s Hurley Medical Center has found that the number of children with above-average lead levels in their bloodstreams skyrocketed after Flint changed it water source.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls lead the most dangerous environmental health hazard for American children today. Babies can get about 50 percent of their exposure to lead by drinking formula made with contaminated water.

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Lead levels can accumulate in the body slowly over time, so even low levels can become toxic eventually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even a blood level of as little as 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter can have a harmful effect on a child’s learning and behavior, for example.

Lead exposure can damage the body’s nervous and reproductive systems as well as the kidneys. It also can contribute to high blood pressure and anemia. Lead accumulates in the bones, and therefore it interferes with the body’s metabolism of calcium and Vitamin D.

The Quickest Ways To Test Your Water For Lead

Image source: Pixabay.com

Municipal water systems are required to test their tap water regularly and to publish the test results on an annual basis. Many of these tests also are available on local water authority websites. You also may be able to access your local report through the EPA website.

If your water comes from a private well, visit EPA.gov/privatewells.

Lead also can come from your own home’s interior pipes or from the line coming from your main supply to your home. Lead often comes from the corrosion of older pipes and fixtures and/or from the lead solder that is connecting the pipes. When water sits in those corroded pipes, lead can enter the water supply.

How can you tell if your own drinking water is safe for your family? Since you cannot see, smell or taste lead in drinking water, the CDC says the only way to know if it contains lead or not is to have it tested.

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Here are some steps to follow:If you use utility water, then contact your local water authority for lead test results. Test results should fall below the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. (This number means 15 particles of lead in a billion particles of water.)

1. If you use utility water, then contact your local water authority for lead test results. Test results should fall below the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. (This number means 15 particles of lead in a billion particles of water.) Next, inquire about

2. Next, inquire about testing of the service pipe (header pipe) at your street.

3. If the header pipe also tests for safe lead levels, it is time to test the water within your home to see if lead is entering the water from pipes or fixtures inside your home. Many local water agencies will test your home’s water for no cost. Check with your agency.

4. If this service is not available, you can schedule a test by a state-certified testing laboratory. Visit this EPA link for more information.

5. Another option – especially if you use well water — is to use a national testing service, such as National Underwriter Laboratories. NUL will test your water for contaminants, including everything from lead to fecal bacteria. Cost can range from about $50 to $500, depending on how many contaminants that are screened.

6. You also can test your home’s water supply yourself, using a home test kit designed for that purpose. Hardware stores and home-improvement stores sell these do-it-yourself kits, and the prices usually range from about $15 to about $60 per test kit.

If you go this route, be sure to follow the package directions carefully. You should test “first draw” water, or the water that comes out of your faucet after sitting for about eight hours or overnight. This water will have the most accumulation of contaminants. As you use your household water throughout the day, you flush toxins out and may not get an accurate reading.

Have you ever tested your water for lead? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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3 comments

  1. A “Fermi calculation” of the problem: With lead levels 100x higher in the water than the limits set by the drug enhanced imagination of the EPA bureaucrats (studies show pts with symptoms of lead poisoning have blood levels of >30ugm%), and if all the Pb consumed were retained by the child (it’s not. Some is excreted everyday.), and assuming the Pb is distributed evenly over the aqueous body space, then a 50 lb kid drinking one whole gallon of water a day (who does that?) would have to do that for 54 yrs to accumulate a minimally toxic blood level of lead.

    The disingenuous press published pictures of ugly, rust stained water in Flint and equated that with a risk of lead poisoning. In Flint/Detroit, the risk of acute lead poisoning from stopping a bullet far outweighs the risk of chronic lead poisoning from drinking the water. Keep things in perspective.

    • Doc,

      I don’t agree with your statement alluding to the risk of violence in Flint/Detroit, MI. How do you avoid lead poisoning if leaded water is washing your dishes, cooking your food, and coming out of your tap, or shower? You can be exposed to lead from the air. Do you feel safe putting leaded water in your humidifier? If you use lead pipes to supply water to livestock, I’d imagine you’d be exposing yourself to lead when you eat it’s meat, or use its bones in cooking.

      Honestly, clean safe drinking water is in everybody’s best interest. Lead exposure in children is directly related to increases violent crime in later life. There is no safe level of lead, and amount is toxic. The levels in drinking water may not cause lead poisoning, but the mere exposure to it causes harm. The EPA bureaucrats allow for 5 ug/dl of lead. It should be 0 ug/dl.

      Also, rust colored drinking water, in Flint, MI, at least, is equated with lead. The water from the Flint River was reported as being more corrosive than the water supply the city had previously been using, supplied by Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The corrosive water broke down the layer of minerals lining the city’s lead and iron pipes. The pipes themselves started to corrode. You can tell your pipes are corroding because iron pipes and plumbing connections will rust. In a normal system, rust in water is just an aesthetic concern, but when the water that is causing your pipes to rust also travels through lead pipes, it is a concern.

      If you want to learn about this for yourself, and you should, search for “subclinical lead exposure.” Humans have known about lead poisoning for a while. New science, that it sounds like you’re unfamiliar with, discovered in the last fifty years, shows that ANY lead exposure is bad. Sociological research is now showing links between lead and some of our modern problems. Some scholars are attributing the dramatic decrease in violence seen in the last twenty years to the ban of tetraethyllead in gasoline. http://pic.plover.com/Nevin/Nevin2007.pdf

      Don’t mess around with drinking water. It may not be worth starting a nuclear water over, like Gen Jack D Ripper in Dr Strangelove, but would you disagree that access to clean, safe (lead-free) drinking water is a basic human right?

      Why aren’t people interested in solving problems any longer? It seems that too many folks just want to hide the evidence or engage in ad hominem attacks. Sure, people in Flint and Detroit are poor, does that mean that it’s fine to poison them, or allow their problems to get worse? It’s way to easy to draw conclusions about race and class when talking about access to clean water in Flint. One might say that the rich (white) folks in the MI state government forced this on the poor (black) residents of Flint. After all, the governor of Michigan suspended democracy in Flint, at the municipal level, and appointed one individual to be in charge. Forget about all that. These are PEOPLE. White people, brown people, poor people, old people, and kids. If you’re not going to help, then shut up.

  2. Wow! This is amazing. I really love your article Tricia. I’m definitely gonna follow the steps you mentioned. Thank you for this wonderful article. I hope that with the knowledge I acquired in reading this can make the water in our house safer and my family more healthy.

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