Lead Sampling in Drinking Water for Individual Homeowners
What is Lead?
Lead is a naturally-occurring element normally found combined with other elements as minerals and ores in the Earth’s crust. In pure form it is a soft, dull gray metal but is rarely found in the metallic state. For more information on lead, click on the links below.
Is There Lead In My Drinking Water?
Lead is rarely found in the natural sources of our drinking water, such as rivers, lakes and aquifers. However, when drinking water enters home plumbing systems, lead can be introduced from the plumbing components into the water we drink. This is due to the naturally-occurring substances in drinking water coming into contact with copper pipes, old lead solder, and brass fittings and fixtures that may contain trace amounts of lead from the manufacturing process. The interaction between the drinking water and home plumbing leads to a process called corrosion, in which the lead in the plumbing components is leached out and transferred to the drinking water.
For more information on home plumbing systems and lead in drinking water, click on the link below.
How Can I Test My Drinking Water For Lead?
The amount of lead in your drinking water, if any, depends on several factors, such as when your home was built, the components currently present in your home plumbing system, and the natural substances present in your drinking water. Testing for lead is necessary to determine if lead is in your drinking water and involves collecting a sample of your tap water and sending it to a state-certified laboratory. You should first contact your public water utility to see if they offer assistance with lead sampling of drinking water in your home. If they do not offer assistance, you must follow specific instructions when collecting the sample so the laboratory results you receive will be an accurate measure of the amount of lead in your drinking water.
Testing your home for lead in drinking water involves the following steps:
- Contact your public water utility to inquire about assistance with sampling your drinking water for lead
- Contact a state certified laboratory and tell them you want to test your drinking water for lead
- Prepare the sample bottle and sample chain of custody sheet provided by the laboratory
- Contact your water supplier or certified laboratory for any questions you may have
- Collect the sample according to the Tap Sampling Instructions
- Deliver the sample to the laboratory
For information on testing your drinking water for lead, click on the links below.
I Have A Private Well. What Actions Could I Take to Test For Lead In My Drinking Water?
If you have a private well, you may want to check both the well and the pump for potential sources of lead. Groundwater wells were once installed with materials and components that contained trace amounts of lead, and if the groundwater is corrosive this may be a source of lead in your drinking water. Some wells may contain a lead packing collar that was installed to help seal the well above the well screen. Your well may also contain a source of lead if it is a driven-point well and has been shot with lead to clear the screen. Lead shot or lead wool may have also been placed into the well to keep sand out. A licensed well contractor can help determine if any of the well components are a source of lead.
For more information on lead in your drinking water from private wells, click on the links below.