How to Detect and Address Lead Contamination in Your Drinking Water

New data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that lead is present in almost 10% of the country’s drinking water service lines. Virginia holds over 2% of the contaminated lines in the nation, totaling 187,883 impacted lines. While federal law prohibits any new lead pipes from being installed, the replacement of older lead service lines is still in progress.

Therefore, how can you be sure your water is not contaminated with lead? By understanding how water systems are impacted by lead, how to test for lead contamination, and what to do if testing comes back positive, you will be able to keep building occupants safe and  provide healthy water.

How Does Lead Enter Our Water System?

Lead contamination occurs when water passes through lead pipes or fixtures, which many older homes and buildings still have in their service lines. As water flows along these pipes, especially older pipes that have low mineral content, it reacts with the materials and causes lead to dissolve into the drinking water. 

Lead solder was commonly used in plumbing systems before it was banned in 1986, therefore older buildings are most at risk of having lead contamination in their water sources. However, in less common scenarios, even newer developments can experience lead contamination in their water through natural sources. Certain bedrock and soils may contain lead and if water passes through them, lead can be introduced into the water supply. 

Because of the unknowns, the best way to ensure your water is safe for drinking is to have it tested.

How to Have Your Drinking Water Tested for Lead 

Proactive testing is essential due to the severe and permanent effects of lead poisoning. While you could use a low-cost lead test, these are not professional tests and may not accurately reflect lead contamination levels. It is best to receive professional testing to be confident that your drinking water is safe. 

At Environmental Hazards Services (EHS), we provide thorough lead testing services at our laboratory in Richmond, VA. Our team utilizes cutting-edge methods to accurately identify any possible lead risk in your building’s water supply.

You can have your water tested for lead in just three simple steps:

1. Contact EHS Laboratories

The first step is to contact EHS to understand what kind of water testing is needed. Because we can test for more than just lead testing—including bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants—connecting with an EHS professional can help ensure the right testing is ordered. 

2. Collect a Water Sample

More than likely, if lead is your concern, our specialist will recommend having a WaterSmart Kit completed. It is important to let the water line sit, undisturbed, for at least six hours. After the lines have sat, fill the bottle that was provided by the WaterSmart Kit with the first water out of the faucet when turned on. In other words, do not “flush” the line before filling your sample. 

3. Receive a Detailed Report on Your Water’s Health

Once EHS Laboratories has completed your water sample analysis, you will receive a full breakdown of all testing completed. 

Between EHS Laboratories and our sister lab, National Testing Laboratories, our specialists can analyze drinking water for lead, chemical, and microbiological contaminants. Our goal is to provide you with peace of mind or give you actionable next steps to protecting yourself and others from lead poisoning. 

How to Take Action if Your Drinking Water Tests Positive for Lead

If your WaterSmart Kit report shows that lead is detected in your drinking water, it is crucial to take immediate action to protect the health of everyone drinking it. Anyone who frequents the contaminated building should be evaluated for lead poisoning, which the effects can be long-lasting if not permanent. We recommend switching to only drinking and cooking with bottled water immediately until the source of lead is identified and corrected. 

Installing a water filter that is tested and endorsed by a third-party tester can be another option, but be sure the water filter is proven to remove lead as some filters do not. It is equally important to change filters in a timely manner to continue to prevent lead exposure from happening.

If the source of lead points to your plumbing, you will want to have your lead pipes replaced with materials like copper or PVC (where appropriate). Working with a qualified plumber can help ensure your water system is cleaned up efficiently. 

Partner with EHS Laboratories for Reputable Lead Testing Nationwide

Ensuring the safety of your drinking water is critical as the long-lasting effects of lead poisoning can be detrimental. At EHS Laboratories, we are committed to accuracy, reliable, and comprehensive testing. Our team of experienced and certified professionals utilizes state-of-the-art equipment to analyze water samples for lead and other contaminants. 

Our testing process is user-friendly and efficient. By working together, we can make environments healthier and work towards a better future where water supplies are rarely contaminated by lead. 

Contact us today to jumpstart your water’s lead testing process.