This guide outlines how using a water test kit can protect you from drinking water containing lead and other chemical contaminants.
Despite having one the safest drinking water supplies in the world, the US still records at least 7 million cases of waterborne diseases annually, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is worth noting that tap water in the US isn’t entirely safe, a reason why you should always test it before consumption.
While municipalities are continuously striving to ensure that safe drinking water reaches households, there are many contaminants in the supply system that makes this difficult. For instance, corrosion in pipes causes lead and other chemical contaminants to get into drinking water. Below are tips on how to determine whether the tap water in your home safe or not
Why You Should Use a Water Test Kit
Testing your tap water before drinking can save you from a myriad of illnesses, including, among others, cholera, typhoid, and cardiovascular diseases in the cases of lead poisoning. Every year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes an Annual Drinking Water Quality Report, which basically outlines the types of contaminants found in the drinking water in different towns.
This report also lists the health risks associated with the mentioned contaminants, as well as what water companies are doing to eliminate them. Before testing your tap water, ensure you go through the water quality report for your town to find out the types of contaminants present, if any.
Take note that if you use well water on your property, you will not receive a water quality report. Also note that you should check if your supply has fluoride in the water.
How To Do a Water Test
The two recommended ways of testing the quality of tap water include:
• Laboratory testing — EPA has a list of certified laboratories that can test the quality of your tap water. You simply need to visit the nearest laboratory with a sample of your tap water and get it tested. One advantage of laboratory testing is that they have the right tools to test for different contaminants.
• Home testing — You can also test the water quality at home using a home water test kit. Depending on the type of test kit you purchase, you can test for up to 200 contaminants for both city and well water.
Tips to Prevent Water Contamination
If you get your drinking water from a water company, you can only contribute to water safety by protecting water sources such as lakes and rivers. The rest is the responsibility of the water company, starting from purifying the water to ensuring that it reaches your taps in a safe condition.
Contrarily, if you depend on well water that’s on your property, you’re entirely responsible for the safety of your water, which makes using a water test kit an even more important practice!
These tips can help you prevent water contamination in your well:
• Ensure you cover the well properly to prevent debris and other physical contaminants from entering.
• Keep chemical contaminants such as fertilizers, gasoline, paint, and motor oil away from the well at all times.
• Have a professional inspect the well every month for signs of corrosion to prevent lead contamination.
• Dispose of chemicals safely rather than pouring them in the yard or down the outdoor drains.
• Keep the well area clear
• Do not install septic systems too close to the well. Experts recommend a distance of at least 50 feet between wells and septic systems as well as leach fields.
• Do not overuse pesticides, fertilizers, and other farm chemicals
• Have a professional inspect your septic system every year and pump it every 3 to 5 years.
Why You May Need a Backflow Preventer
To prevent backflow, water supply systems typically provide water at a sufficient pressure. However, factors such as power failure or a water main break can interrupt the pressure, causing backflow, which is a problem because it can pollute or contaminate water. It is worth noting that water backflow is especially common in portable water supplies.
One way to prevent backflow is to install a backflow preventer on your home’s water pipes. To determine whether you need a backflow preventer or not, consult with a qualified plumber.
What to Do If Your Drinking Water Is Contaminated
If the water test kit reveals the presence of contaminants in your drinking water, you need to stop using it immediately. You need to disinfect it using the right filters and disinfectants, but first, ensure you contact your local health department for professional advice.
You can also contact your municipal water supplier to report the matter and ask for inspections. Take note that while boiling drinking water can eliminate biological contaminants such as germs and other microbes, it won’t remove chemicals such as lead.
Regardless of how clean your tap water may seem, it might contain some microscopic contaminates. Therefore, you should always use the best water test kit to determine whether or not your tap water is safe for drinking. Remember, a certified plumber can also help you improve water quality in your home.