The Multnomah County provides free lead-in-water kits for residents in the Portland area. The kit comes with instructions, containers, packaging and postage to return a water sample for testing.
You can use the kit to collect and return a sample for testing. In about six weeks, you’ll get an analysis.
To request a kit, call the LeadLine at 503-988-4000. To check if you live in a water district eligible for free testing, visit leadline.org.
Old Pipes May Contain Lead
Old pipes and fixtures are the main source of lead in Oregon homes’ drinking water. It was common for homes plumbed between 1970 and 1985 to contain copper pipes joined with lead solder. If you live in a home built during that time, it’s a good idea to learn how to test water for lead.
A home with old plumbing may need repiping. Meticulous Plumbing can help you evaluate your system. Our skilled Portland plumbers will make recommendations to improve the safety of your pipes and drinking water.
How Lead Gets Into Household Drinking Water
Lead can leach into household water when water sits in pipes for several hours. This may happen overnight or when water hasn’t been used in several hours. Soft water in particular causes corrosion in pipes. Portland’s water source, Bull Run, is known to have soft, corrosive water. Hard water tends to leave deposits which protects from corrosion.
How You Can Reduce Your Exposure to Lead in Water
Not every old home needs repiping. If your home was built after 1985, it likely doesn’t have plumbing containing lead. If you’re not sure about the safety of your pipes and fixtures, there are some common-sense measures you can take to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.
To reduce the risk of lead in your water, take the following steps:
- If water hasn’t been used for several hours, run the tap for 2 minutes to flush out pipes.
- Use only cold, fresh tap water for cooking and food preparation.
- Use a water filter that removes lead.
- Keep the aerator on your kitchen faucet clean.
How Portland Drinking Water Rates
The Portland Water Bureau has taken steps to protect drinking water from lead poisoning. It raises the pH level of water to reduce the risk of corrosion in pipes. It has removed service connections known to contain lead.
The public health crisis in Flint, Michigan has many people wondering about the safety of their drinking water. The EPA may be giving Portland’s water more scrutiny in the wake of the disaster in Flint, according to a story in The Oregonian.
Problems on the scale of Michigan’s haven’t been found in Oregon. However, several Oregon water districts, including some in the Portland area, have been cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for exceeding the regulatory limits for lead in drinking water. The Oregonian reports Portland has exceeded federal standards for lead levels 10 times, as recently as 2013.
Please contact Meticulous Plumbing if you have concerns about the safety of your home’s pipes.