While most cities claim to have safer water than bottled water, the crisis in Flint, Michigan has given many homeowners pause about the safety of their tap water. It’s important that every homeowner has clean, safe drinking water coming from their tap. So how do you know if yours is safe, and what can you do to be sure?
According to the EPA or Environmental Protection Agency, anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of American’s exposure to dangerous lead comes from their water. Since lead can accumulate in your body over time, even low levels can be extremely toxic. Whether your water comes from a well or the public water system, you should put your water to the test. Public water systems perform their own testing as part of normal monitoring, but quality can vary from house to house.
If you have a lead pipe system, it’s especially important to test your water. If your non-plastic plumbing was installed prior to 1986, it’s also extremely important. You cannot see, smell, or taste lead, so performing these tests every so often is very crucial. In general, a safe level of lead in water should be less than 15 pars per billion. Ask your locality for a Consumer Confidence Report that will show you their most result test results.
You can find lead home testing kits at most pluming or home improvement supply stores. Make sure you follow the directions very carefully and always test the first water that comes out of the faucet after sitting overnight. This is known as “first draw water” and will provide the most accurate snapshot. Send the sample of your water to a state-certified laboratory for more detailed results.
Reducing Your Exposure to Lead in Your Drinking Water
Luckily, there are a few things you can do at home to help reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water. Follow these tips to stay safe:
- Try a faucet or pitcher filter that can keep your water clean. Make sure you use one that is fully certiied by the National Sanitation Foundation International, as these are designed to remove lead.
- Clean the screen on your faucet regularly. Minerals and sediment can build up here and get into your glass of water.
- Always run the tap for about 15 to 30 seconds before filling your glass. This is especially important if you have not run the water for over six hours or more.
- Check elderly and children in your household for any possible lead exposure in their blood.
- Hot water typically contains higher levels of lead, so always cook with cold water.
- When mixing baby formula, use cold water.
- Visit the EPA website for more information about your specific water supplier as well as any potential for lead exposure risk.
Occasional testing along with these easy tips can help to ensure that your drinking water is safe and lead-free.