Your Kit does 3 things:
We're offering 1,000 affordable kits while supplies last.
We want to give every household the option to test their water. Each test costs Healthy Babies Bright Futures $65 for the kit, laboratory analysis and shipping (water is heavy). We are committed to providing at least 1,000 kits but will offer more if funding is available. Please pay what you can and consider donating to cover the cost of another kit. 100% of HBBF's proceeds from the purchased kits cover the cost of the test kits, analysis, results reporting and shipping and also underwrite the costs for those kits donated or sold below the $65 price point. Together we can reach those most at risk: women who are pregnant or trying to conceive, families with children under age 2 and residents in low-income communities with many sources of lead exposure.U.S. Shipping Only
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How it works
Collect 3 Tap Water Samples
Your kit will include step-by-step instructions to collect three tap water samples from your home in just a few minutes. If lead is found, the test can pinpoint the source so we can provide you customized solutions.
Send Us Your Water Samples
Use the prepaid return shipping label and the box included with your kit to send your samples back to water testing experts at Virginia Tech. Sampling and laboratory analysis follow EPA protocols for lead in water testing.
Act on Your Water Results
You can expect your results by email within 30 days. Your results will tell you whether there is lead in your water and, if so, what steps you can take to reduce your family's risks of exposure.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?
What do I do if I think my child might have lead poisoning?
Lead paint is usually an important part of the problem, but lead in tap water is a common, hidden source and is often overlooked in investigations of lead poisoning. Testing your tap water is important especially if your child has been diagnosed with lead poisoning.
For more information about the lead in your home, contact your state’s lead poisoning prevention program or one of the many non-governmental organizations across the country that work to reduce children’s exposures to lead.
Is lead only a problem for children?
Why is lead in tap water?
Older homes in older cities are particularly at risk for lead in water. But even newer homes can have a lead problem. EPA reduced allowable lead levels in city water, pipes and home plumbing in 1986 and 1991. Even stricter limits went into effect in 2014, but health advocates are calling for still lower levels. Sources of lead in your home water may include:
- Lead service lines:Up to 10 million older homes and buildings nationwide have lead lines leading to the main water pipe. In older cities, the utility’s main water pipes and meters may also contain lead.
- Lead solder:In many older homes, lead solder connects copper water pipes.
- Faucets: Most faucets are made of leaded brass, which can leach lead into your water.
The only way to know if you have high lead in your water is to test. You can purchase a kit. Your test results will come with a customized action report that includes simple steps to reduce your exposures.
What steps can I take to keep my water safe while I’m waiting on test results?
- Flush your water before you use it
The longer your water sits in home pipes without running, the more lead it can pick up. Any time water has been sitting for several hours, you should run it to flush the lead out before you drink it or use it for cooking. EPA has recommended:
- In most homes, flushing for 30 to 45 seconds is sufficient to clear out water that has picked up lead from your pipes and fixtures. Usually the water will feel colder when your home pipes are fully flushed.
- If you have a lead service line (see steps below to find out), flushing water for 3-5 minutes has been recommended. In most homes, this clears out the water not only from the pipes inside your home, but also from the service pipe between your home and the road. Good ways to flush your water without simply running it down the drain include outdoor watering, flushing the toilet, or running a dishwasher or clothes washing machine.
- Use a water filter
Many families also use a home water filter to reduce exposures. These can especially help if you have a lead service line (see below), or non-plastic pipes installed before 1986, when EPA established lead standards for home plumbing. Look for a filter certified by NSF to remove lead. Pitcher filters and carbon filters that attach to the end of the faucet are among the most affordable types. Maintain your filter at least as often as is recommended by the manufacturer to keep it effective.
- Check if your service line is made of lead
If your house was built before 1986, you may have a lead pipe (a “lead service line”) running into your home from your neighborhood’s main water pipe.
A service line normally comes through a wall of your home, and then connects to the rest of your home plumbing.
Lead service lines are a dull gray color and very soft. Check if your pipe is lead by carefully scratching with a key. If the pipe is lead, the scratch mark will be bright silver. Do not use a knife or other sharp tool, and take care not to puncture the pipe. Wash the key off when you are finished.
If you have a lead service line, contact your water utility to learn if there is a plan to replace it. If your water has not been used for several hours, flush it thoroughly before using it for drinking or cooking, as described above. Consider using a home water filter for additional protection.
A lead service line does not guarantee high lead levels in your water, but is a risk factor. Your city may use a water source that is not corrosive, and not likely to leach lead from your pipes. Your water utility may also have a solid anti-corrosion program in place. But levels of lead can spike if your water utility changes its water source, alters its treatment chemicals, or drops its corrosion control program, as has now happened in Flint, Michigan and several other cities in recent years.
Is bottled water safer?
How do I know if water in school or childcare is safe?
What about lead paint and other sources?
Health agencies recommend keeping paint in good repair so that it doesn’t flake, build up in house dust, and stick to children’s hands. Also recommended: keep children away from bare soil near older homes and roads, where both house paint and past use of leaded gasoline have left contaminated soil. Read more about steps to reduce lead exposures from U.S. EPA [http://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead].
But in many homes, lead sources include more than just paint, water and soil. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a diverse list of common items that can add to the body burden of lead in children:
- Imported candies, toys, toy jewelry, cosmetics and ceramics;
- A variety of consumer products, including tea kettles and vinyl miniblinds;
- Traditional home health remedies such as azarcon and greta, which are used for upset stomach in the Hispanic community.
Each home has its own, unique “fingerprint” of lead sources – in water, soil, paint, and household items – that contribute to a child’s total exposure. HBBF is launching an initiative later this year to move beyond lead in water, to help families track down the many possible sources of lead in their homes. Through research that includes collaborative data gathering from hundreds of families and homes around the country, we aim to arm families and advocacy groups with data they need to measurably reduce children’s exposures to lead. The work will help shore up faltering policies and programs that can prevent lead exposures for children in the first place.
What about other toxic chemicals that may be in my water or elsewhere in my home?
HBBF’s many partner organizations also have terrific resources online to help you protect your family from exposures to harmful chemicals. We encourage you to explore their websites and learn more about what they do and the resources they provide.
How is this test kit different from a DIY kit I can buy at the store?
Different from other lead tests, the kit offered here is specifically designed to give you detailed results and customized information on what to do about that information. Our goal is to help you take action to reduce exposures when you get your results. Your test results will come with a clear list of steps you can take to protect your family. We are offering a subsidized $12 kit (down from the actual kit cost of $65) to help more families be able to use this kit and benefit from taking action.
By using this kit you are also participating in a collaborative, crowd-sourced research project on water quality that can influence national policy, helping HBBF, our partner organizations, and Virginia Tech in their work to ensure safe drinking water for everyone.
This Lead in Water Test Kit is unique in four ways:
- Your samples are analyzed by Dr. Marc Edward’s laboratory at Virginia Tech, the group that uncovered lead contamination in Flint, Michigan and Washington DC.
- With your test results you will receive a customized report with concrete actions you can take to reduce exposures for you and your family.
- The kit includes 3 water samples, to help target actions that can best reduce exposures for your particular situation.
- You are part of a collaborative research project that will help strengthen drinking water safety policies nationally.
But no matter what kit you use, we recommend that you test your water, especially if you live in a home built before 1986.