Testing For Lead in Drinking Water

Lead in drinking water is known to be dangerous for humans, and children. Most governments have strict regulations which require regular testing of water samples to prevent lead contamination. Despite this, challenges remain with lead in drinking water in many parts of the world.

The adverse health effects of lead exposure in children and adults are well documented. Research has shown that no amount of lead is safe for children to ingest. Lead can be ingested from various sources, including house dust contaminated by lead paint, as well as soil, drinking water, and food.

Common causes of lead in drinking water

Lead contamination is often caused by a change of process designed to reduce costs associated with water production, distribution and treatment. In Hong Kong, the use of cheap, poorly regulated construction contractors resulted in pipes being soldered with material that contained up to 500 times the safe limit of lead. In Flint, a change of water source and lack of proper treatment caused the phosphate lining of the lead distribution pipes to erode, exposing the water to a lead source. These issues were compounded with a lack of proper testing that made it impossible to take the right action early on. Inevitably, the lead from both sources leached into the drinking water, taking it past safe drinking limits. To learn more about lead in different applications view our lead parameter page.

Testing for lead in water

Low cost options such as test strips only provide a basic level of screening capability. They are often advertised as being suitable for measuring below the EPA ‘action limit’ of 15 μg/L, however, this level is for the 90th percentile of a series of results. Find out more about the US EPA Lead and Copper Rule here.

Download this document to find out more about how lead exposure has been reduced in the United States and how effective these measures have been.

The WHO  and DWI state the consent limit for lead in drinking water is 10 µg/L. Test strips, by their design and mode of operation, are unlikely to provide a suitable level of precision when testing at such levels. This, therefore, puts pressure on laboratories to process samples as quickly as possible. A common concern when testing for lead is being able to prove the sample has not been tampered with during transportation.

Kemio™ Heavy Metals

Kemio™ Heavy Metals allows for cost-effective screening of lead and cadmium across multiple drinking water sites. A wide range of samples can be screened in a short space of time. Kemio™ Heavy Metals enables immediate action to be taken to close off contaminated drinking water sources without the delays of laboratory testing.

Suitable for all users, Kemio™, provides laboratory-grade results without laboratory technicians. Users do not require training; they are guided by on-screen visual instructions.

Kemio™ Heavy Metals utilises the only EPA approved method for portable testing of lead in water. Kemio™ measures lead in water from 2 – 100 μg/L, enabling compliance to the WHO guidelines of 10 µg/L. The accuracy of the readings are comparable to laboratory techniques such as ICP-MS and atomic absorption. Find out more about Kemio™ Heavy Metals here.

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