Skip to Main Content

"EPA and the CDC agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Lead is harmful to health, especially children."

Read more .

The facts:

  • The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that EPA regulate the water provided by Public Water Systems.
    • Does not include homes supplied by private wells, estimated to be approximately 26,000,000 homes.
    • Does not include testing of drinking water in schools and daycare facilities (unless they operate their own water supply). There are approximately 130,000 total public and private schools in the U.S.
  • The most common source of lead contamination occurs due to corrosion of lead-containing solder, fixtures and pipe within a building’s plumbing system. This corrosion occurs when the water has low pH or is acidic, and/or when the water has a low mineral content.
  • Copper was also commonly used in plumbing systems and is susceptible to corrosion.
  • In 1974 Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, requiring EPA to regulate contaminants in drinking water produced by Public Water Systems.
  • In 1986 EPA limited the use of lead in solder to less than 0.2%, and less than 0.25% in pipes and fixtures. Any plumbing system installed about that time and earlier is susceptible to causing unsafe lead contamination.
  • In 1991 EPA issued the Lead and Copper Rule, which requires water systems to control the corrosivity of water, and monitor lead and copper levels in distribution systems of Public Water Systems.
  • EPA set the Maximum Contaminant Level in Public Water Systems for lead at 15 parts per billion (µg/L) and copper at 1,300 parts per billion (µg/L).

Sampling Guidance:

The EPA has not specified mandatory sampling procedures for how drinking water must be sampled but has provided two sets of guidance based on consumption, cost and other factors.

Public Water System distribution system/residential sampling:

  • Take a 1-liter sample in one wide-mouth container.
  • Do not flush any water from the plumbing system prior to sampling.
  • Do not remove or clean the tap aerator if present prior to or during sampling.
  • Take a first-draw sample from a tap where water is regularly and typically taken for consumption and after the water has stood in the pipes for at least six hours (e.g. no toilet flushing, showering, etc.). Turn the tap on as if filling a pot of water and fill the sample container immediately after turning on the tap.
  • Samples are not required to be preserved in the field with acid (this preservation may be done at the laboratory), and samples are not required to be shipped on ice to the laboratory.
  • For additional information see: https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi?Dockey=P100DP2P.txt .

Schools and Daycare Facilities sampling:

  • Take a 250 milliliter sample in one wide-mouth container.
  • Determine which outlets are to be sampled, such as drinking fountains and kitchen sinks.
  • Take first-draw samples after the water has stood in pipes for at least six hours (e.g. no toilet flushing, use of water, etc.). Turn the tap on as if filling a pot of water, or the fountain as if taking a drink of water, and fill the sample container immediately after turning on the water.
  • If lead is suspected throughout the system, also take a sample after flushing the water from the outlet for 30 seconds. This will provide information about whether or not lead is present in plumbing further back in the system.
  • Samples are not required to be preserved in the field with acid (this preservation may be done at the laboratory), and samples are not required to be shipped on ice to the laboratory.
  • For additional information see: https://www.epa.gov/dwreginfo/3ts-reducing-lead-drinking-water-testing .

More Information:

Contact Pace Analytical for detailed logistical and cost information about performing Lead and Copper surveys: E: drinkingwater@pacelabs.com or Ph: 813.731.1595.

For more information about EPA’s regulation of Lead and Copper see:

For more information about EPA’s guidance for Lead and Copper in schools and daycare facilities see:

Pace Analytical Advantages:

Pace Analytical provides drinking water laboratory services for schools, day care facilities, Public Water Systems (PWSs) and environmental/safety consultants who serve these organizations. Pace’s Drinking Water labs are geographically situated and certified to service nearly the entire country:

  • Automatic notification of results that exceed safe drinking water limits immediately when the data is releasable to its clients and before issuance of a certificate of analysis.
  • Confidentiality – Pace does not divulge any client information whatsoever to outside entities such as the media. Client information and data remain confidential between Pace and its clients.
  • Size and locations provide allow a very high capacity for analysis of drinking water samples for lead and copper.
  • Analysis for all other parameters that are required under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR).
  • Password protected website, PacePort, enables clients to access all their data and files on a nearly real-time basis at no extra charge. Data may be downloaded by clients in virtually any format from PacePort.
  • Field sampling guidance provided in accordance with EPA recommendations for water systems, schools, and daycare facilities.
  • Samples are not required to be preserved in the field or shipped on ice, and may be shipped to the lab by ground courier.

Pace Contact Info:

E: drinkingwater@pacelabs.com or Ph: 813.731.1595

If you have a Drinking Water emergency response contact:
Ph: 877.859.7778 or E: rapidresponse@pacelabs.com