Home Safety

This section will highlight some issues relating to safety around the home.

A recent Washington Post article reported that two-thirds of DC homes tested exceed EPA limits for lead in tap water. One home tested 36 times the EPA limit. Of particular concern is that the reason for this was not known.

Here's some helpful information from the EPA:

Q: How can I tell if my water contains too much lead?

A: You should have your water tested for lead. Testing costs between $20 and $100. Since you cannot see, taste, or smell lead dissolved in water, testing is the only sure way of telling whether or not there are harmful quantities of lead in your drinking water. You should be particularly suspicious if your home has lead pipes (lead is a dull gray metal that is soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key), if you see signs of corrosion (frequent leaks, rust-colored water, stained dishes or laundry, or if your non-plastic plumbing is less than five years old. Your water supplier may have useful information, including whether or not the service connector used in your home or area is made of lead. Testing is especially important in high-rise buildings where flushing might not work.

Q: How do I have my water tested?

A: Water samples from the tap will have to be collected and sent to a qualified laboratory for analysis. Contact your local water utility or your local health department for information and assistance. In some instances, these authorities will test your tap water for you, or they can refer you to a qualified laboratory. You may find a qualified testing company under 'Laboratories" in the yellow pages of your telephone directory. You should be sure that the lab you use has been approved by your state or by EPA as being able to analyze drinking water samples for lead contamination. To find out which labs are qualified, contact your state or local department of the environment or health.

Q: What are the testing procedures?

A: Arrangements for sample collection will vary. A few laboratories will send a trained technician to take the samples; but in most cases, the lab will provide sample containers along with instructions as to how you should draw your own tap-water samples. If you collect the samples yourself, make sure you follow the lab's instructions exactly. Otherwise, the results might not be reliable. Make sure that the laboratory is following EPA's water sampling and analysis procedures. Be certain to take a "first draw" and a "fully flushed" sample.


While it's best to have a professional test for lead, you may want to get an initial idea of your home's lead levels with a home water test kit. One supplier of home water test kits is Watersafe.



NSF International - certifies water filters (look for the NSF seal on the filter package)

National Lead Information Center 1(800) 424-LEAD [5323] (Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 7:00 PM eastern time, except Federal holidays)




Filters That Get the Lead Out (washingtonpost.com)

D.C. Water And Sewer Authority

Map of approximate lead service lines locations in DC

Searchable database of 6,100  homes tested (look for the searchbox on the right side of the page).