Lead is a neurotoxin that can have lifelong consequences in children by affecting their brain development. There are typically no clear symptoms for parents to notice, and the health effects are permanent.
If you’re concerned about lead in your home, it’s important to test your water, especially if you live in a home that was built before 1969, when Allegheny County banned the use of lead pipes.
More than 70 percent of homes in Allegheny County were built before 1970.
The water pipe from the street to your home, called a service line, was often made of lead before the ban was in place. Replacing an old lead service line is the responsibility of the utility, in some cases, up to the property line, and then the homeowners’ responsibility on their own property. This fix can cost several thousand dollars.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority offers free lead tests to its customers. To request a testing kit, call 412-782-7554.
Penn State Extension offers tests through its Agricultural Analytical Services Lab in State College. A lead test costs $25, and they offer a range of other drinking water tests. You can contact a Penn State Extension office in your county for a testing kit. In Allegheny County, you can reach the Extension office at 412-263-1000 or at AlleghenyExt@psu.edu.
You can also search the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s website for an accredited laboratory and the type of drinking water test you would like administered.