Q:

How can you test your drinking water?

A:

Quick Answer

Test drinking water for contaminants by using a do-it-yourself test kit, hiring a professional specialist and researching the public information published by local water authorities. The Environmental Working Group’s database of water quality also provides detailed specifics of chemicals found in drinking water.

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Full Answer

Kits such as the First Alert WT1 Drinking Water Test Kit are available at home centers. These kits test water for pesticides, bacteria, nitrites and nitrates, PH levels and water hardness in accordance with EPA standards, and they also detect the presence of chlorine and lead. The tests contain easy-to-use instructions and testing strips that react to different elements by showing various colors.

The EPA sets acceptable limits for chemicals found in drinking water and requires water providers to test water annually and disclose their results to customers. The agency has a searchable database through its Water Watch program, which catalogs water quality violations in 18 participating states.

The Environmental Working Group’s information not only focuses on EPA standards, but on those that the EPA overlooks. The EWG flags unlisted substances as over-the-limit when they appear, as there are no guideline for acceptable amounts in the drinking supply.

Homeowners concerned about the chemicals in their water supply after testing should contact local laboratories for the names of specialists who can professionally test drinking water in detail. National Testing Laboratories offers testing kits for wells and city water, providing radiological and a variety of other specialty tests.

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