How to Test and Filter Your Tap Water for Lead

In theory, urban water supplies are safe. They are watched, checked and treated by those in power. But of course we know that it doesn’t always work . And even if the water at the source is clean, lead can get into old pipes even before the water reaches you. Or maybe you take water from a well and no one is watching but you.

Whether your city is in trouble, drinking well water, or just wanting to be safer, you can also test your water for lead before you go crazy spending money on filtering it.

The good folks at Popular Science compared three tap water tests : a free testing service in New York, the $ 15 First Alert home test kit , and the much more complete and much more expensive Tap Score test . The results of the three tests matched, so if your state offers free testing, that’s a good bet. The Tap Score offers a range of tests, from $ 39 for lead and copper to $ 219 for … whatever, but as Popular Science writes , “spending $ 100-200 on a test kit is probably overkill.” But if you drink water from a well, or live somewhere where municipal tests are infrequent, it might be worth learning as much as possible.

So when you get results, what will you do?

For environmental and economic reasons, it is better to use filtrion than switching to bottled water. Whichever style of filter you use – a jug, an under-sink filter, a refrigerator, and more – you need to make sure it’s certified to filter out the pollutants that bother you.

NSF International (not to be confused with NSF ) issues, among its many public safety projects, certifications for water filters to various standards. The filter, complying with standard 42, filters out chlorine used for water purification; Standard 53 certification ensures the filter removes contaminants including lead, mercury, cadmium, benzene and asbestos; The 401 standard covers “emerging pollutants” such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals that may not be subject to EPA regulations.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a searchable database of water filters that allows you to select filter type, filtration technology, and contaminants. The Wirecutter’s choice for pitcher filters is the Brita Longlast filter, which has a six month life instead of two and is NSF certified to 42, 53 and 401 standards (which is not the case for a regular Brita filter). You can always use the $ 15 First Alert Kit to double-check the water on the other side of the filter. Go ahead and stay hydrated.


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