FAQS

What are some signs that i should test my water?

  • Odd taste, coloration or smell can indicate the presence of contaminants.
  • Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead plumbing and fixtures that can leach into tap water.
  • Because private well water is not monitored by testing at a treatment facility, the EPA recommends testing twice a year.
  • Stains in sinks and around fixtures can indicate the presence of iron, copper and other minerals.
  • Monitor news reports and TBD websites to learn of contamination outbreaks in your area.
  • Water quality is constantly changing. Regular retesting recommended.

Can I tell my water is contaminated by how it looks, smells, or tastes?

Not necessarily. While some contaminants, like iron and copper, will produce discoloration, an unpleasant taste, or leave a mineral residue around sinks and fixtures, dangerous contaminants, like lead, bacteria and pesticides can be invisible, odorless and colorless and can only be detected through testing.

Where does contamination come from?

Contaminants enter the water supply from many sources, including:

  • Naturally-occurring contaminants in soil and ground water.
  • Pipes and plumbing fixtures within the home.
  • Industrial waste from factories, mining operations, and oil drilling.
  • Agricultural pesticides and fertilizers from farms, parks or lawns.

Will i know if I am suffering health consequences?

Again, not necessarily. In some cases, drinking contaminated water will produce immediate symptoms, like stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea. In other cases, such as lead poisoning, the toxin builds up in the body over time, and ill effects can take months or years to become apparent. This is particularly true with pregnant women, where lead can cause birth defects, and young children, who can suffer from developmental problems such as stunted growth and lower IQ.

Hardness is not a health concern, but it can have other undesirable consequences, such as preventing soap from lathering, scaling pots and pans, and damaging water heaters.

How are contaminants regulated?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the allowable levels of over 90 drinking water contaminants in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. In addition, states are allowed to set their own standards as long as they meet the EPA’s minimum requirements.

Public water systems are required by the EPA to notify customers if they violate EPA or state drinking water regulations, or if they provide drinking water that may pose a risk to consumers’ health. However, in the case of lead, an alert is only issued when more than 10% of a system’s tap water samples show lead concentrations above EPA limits of 15 ppb (parts per billion).

What are acceptable contaminant levels according to the EPA?

EPA Regulated

Contaminant EPA Maximum Level-Mg/L (ppm) ppb (ug/L) Health Effects

Bacteria

None

None

Indicates water contamination and causes intestinal illness

Lead

0.015

15.0

Learning disorders in children, high blood pressure in adults

Pesticides (atrazine)

0.003

3.0

Cardiovascular system or reproductive problems

Pesticides (simazine)

0.004

4.0

Problems with blood

Copper

1.3

1300.0

Liver & Kidney Damage

Chlorine

4.0

4,000.0

Stomach discomfort

Nitrate

10.0

10,000.0

Blue baby syndrome (age 6 and below), illness or death

Nitrite

1.0

1,000.0

Blue baby syndrome and shortness of breath

Not EPA Regulated- Suggested

Contaminant Mg/L (ppm) ppb (ug/L) Health Effects

Iron

0.3

300.0

Increases the risk of arthritis, cancer, liver problems, diabetes and heart failure

Hardness

50.0

Causes mineral scale, clogs faucets, damages water heaters

pH

6.5 to 8.5

Acidic pH causes pipe corrosion and heavy metal leaching from plumbing

Are EPA regulations enforced?

Unfortunately, the crisis in Flint, Michigan is not a unique occurrence. Recent news reports have shown that water systems across the country are in violation of government safety standards.

According to a USA Today investigation, excessive lead levels have been found in almost 2,000 water systems across all fifty states. These systems collectively supply water to over 6 million people. The same investigation revealed that in 180 cases water systems failed to notify consumers as required by law.

CNN recently reported that 18 million Americans live in communities where water systems are in violation of the EPA’s lead and copper rule. The report assert that many utilities of “’game the system” by using “flawed or questionable testing methods in order to avoid detecting high levels of lead.”

Bottom line: You can’t assume that your water is free of contaminants unless you test it.

Is there a way to find out where contamination outbreaks have OCCURRED?

The EPA has created the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Online Source Waters (DWMAPS), an online mapping tool that provides information on water supply conditions across the country. READ ARTICLE

Note that this map is not comprehensive. Your community may not be listed, but your water may still be contaminated, for example from your home’s plumbing fixtures.

What should I do if my water is contaminated?

That depends on several factors, including the contaminant, the source, and the concentration. Some options include:

  • Call the EPA a safe drinking water hotline 800-426-4791
  • Use bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing until the contamination is removed.
  • Install a filtration system certified to remove your specific contaminant.
  • Identify the source of the contamination.
  • If the source is within the home, consider replacing affected pipes and fixtures.
  • If the source is outside the home, contact your local water system.

STILL HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

customerservice@watersafetestkits.com

If your water tests positive for contaminants, consult the following resources.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)

Drinking water contaminants – standards and regulations
READ ARTICLE

Actions you can take to reduce lead in drinking water
READ ARTICLE

CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION (CDC)

List of state lead programs
READ ARTICLE