Environment Wellness

How can children be exposed to lead?

Young children may be exposed to lead through many platforms:

  • Lead paints on walls

  • Lead-based accents on furniture and decor

  • Lead in soil

Lead often enters the digestive system of children as it reportedly tastes sweet. This can lead to harmful infections or volatile reactions to lead exposure.


Are cheap toys more likely to contain toxic chemicals than brand-name toys

Lead and other harmful elements can be found in all types of toys no matter where they are manufactured. Children's metal jewelry in particular tends to contain more lead than other children's toys.


Should my child be tested for lead if he or she has played with a toy that was found to contain high levels of lead?

Parents should consult with their pediatrician to determine whether a lead test for their child is necessary. The detection of lead in a product does not always indicate exposure. It is important to remember that toys and children’s articles are only one source of lead exposure for kids.


How can I limit my child’s exposure to lead in toys?

It is possible to limit your child’s exposure to lead:

  • Check recall warnings on brand name products

  • Remove toy from your child’s possession

  • Wipe down surfaces which have contacted the lead toy


Is lead paint the main source of lead exposure in children?

Lead paints found in older homes generally pose the greatest risk of lead exposure in children. Many children’s toys also contain traces of lead and hazardous chemicals. Metal jewelry with high levels of lead or cadmium can be fatal if ingested. Lead exposure symptoms will vary based on a child's behavior and the specific products they use.


How can I tell if I have a lead hazard in my building?

Architectural lead hazards can exist in many areas:

  • Peeling or decaying paint

  • Penetrable or spongy surfaces i.e. window sills, rails, staircases

  • Movable, painted surfaces i.e. window frames and jambs, doors and hinges

  • Painted surfaces with evidence of dents or chips i.e. door frames, moldings, cabinets


Why is lead used in paints? Which paint color has lead?

In 1978, the federal government issued a ban on the use of lead in manufactured paints and household products due to its toxicity. However, before 1978, lead was contained in paint products to accelerate drying and produce desired colors. The most common paint colors with lead additives are Yellow, which has lead (II) chromate, and White, which has lead (II) carbonate.


Why is testing recommended for houses built before 1978?

Federal regulations issued in 1978 placed a ban on lead in paint sold for residential use. Lead-based paints are likely to exist in homes built before 1978, and still pose a health risk even if walls have been repainted.


What are the risk factors leading to water lead poisoning?

According to the EPA, having safe drinking water is ultimately the responsibility of the end user. The risk of drinking lead contaminated water increases in homes with the following defects:

  • Lead pipes or water main connectors

  • Copper pipes with lead solder

  • Water softener disposed in pipes connected to drinking water taps

  • Residual pipe water in contact with lead for several hours

Nowadays, lead pipes and lead-containing materials are prohibited from being used in plumbing linked to drinking water faucets. However, older homes with plumbing installed prior to 1930 likely have lead pipes, and copper pipes installed before 1988 may contain lead solder.


Why should I be concerned about lead in drinking water?

High levels of lead in tap water can cause health problems if lead enters the bloodstream and causes an elevated blood lead level. Risk will vary depending on the individual and amount of water consumed. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Convulsions

  • Coma

  • Death

Lead builds up in the body, so ongoing exposure to even negligible amounts of lead can be harmful, especially to young children. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, abdominal pain, constipation, fatigue, sleeplessness, irritability and headache.


What does “leachable lead” mean?

Leachable lead refers to lead which is stripped or peeled off a finished surface, i.e. ceramic glaze. One of the most common sources of lead contamination occurs when food or other consumables comes into contact with lead-based material.


How does lead get into my drinking water?

Corrosion of household plumbing systems is the main source of lead in drinking water. Lead leaches into water through contact with plumbing. Approximately 10 to 20% of human exposure to lead comes from lead in drinking water. The amount of lead in your household water supply depends on many factors:

  • Type and amount of mineral deposits

  • Length of time water stays in pipes

  • Amount of wear in pipes

  • Water acidity

  • Water temperature


How do I know if my tap water is contaminated with lead?

The only way to know whether your tap water contains lead is to have it tested. You cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water. It is possible to obtain lead measurements from the Internet, or directly from the local water authority.


How do I know if the household drinking water is contaminated by lead?

The only way to determine if your household drinking water is contaminated by lead is to perform a home water quality test. Our PurTest Instant Lead Water Testing Kit is designed to ensure the lead concentration of your drinking water falls within EPA standards. Early lead detection is critical to prevent harmful exposure or poisoning.


How can I test for lead in drinking water?

Water test kits, such as our PurTest Instant Lead Water Testing Kit, can identify lead contamination in drinking water within minutes. These tests are affordable, easy to use and do not require external intervention.


Does a high lead level in my tap water cause health effects?

High levels of lead in tap water can cause health effects if the lead enters the bloodstream. Exposure to water contaminated with more than 15 parts per billion of lead may not elevate blood lead levels in an isolated scenario. Lead poisoning varies based on many factors:

  • Age and health

  • Amount of water consumed

  • Concentration of lead in water

  • Time exposed to lead


If my water has high lead levels, is it safe to take a bath or shower?

Yes, even if water contains lead over the allowable EPA limit, bathing and showering should be safe for your family. Human skin does not absorb lead in water. In rare cases involving highly corrosive water, additional recommendations or more stringent actions may be required. Your local water authority remains the best source for testing and identifying lead contamination in your water supply.


How does water contamination occur?

Lead poisoning from tap water occurs from exposure to lead-containing materials in plumbing system. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 20% of public water systems, which serve 32 million people are known to have lead levels exceeding the EPA's safety standard of 15 ppb (parts per billion).


Should you test your municipal water supply?

Water from municipal water systems are regularly checked for toxic elements. However, inadequate treatment from filtration or distribution facilities can spread harmful water impurities. Deteriorating pipes can also lead to water contamination. A simple water analysis test should be able to identify any of the following causes of water impurities.


What contaminants in water should I be testing for?

Many types of bacteria naturally occur in drinking water. While some may not pose a threat, others can be very harmful to your health. Pesticides are one of the most recurring contaminants in drinking water. Even though pesticide levels are usually quite low, exposure over a long period of time may cause serious long-term health effects.


What are the common sources of groundwater contaminants?

Groundwater can be contaminated via:

  • Pesticides

  • Sewage

  • Nutrient leaching

  • Synthetic organics

  • Acidification or erosion


What is the risk of having pesticides in drinking water?

With increasing industrialization and pollution, it may be inevitable for small amounts of pesticides to leach into public water supplies. Long-term pesticide ingestion or inhalation can damage organs, cause cancer, and increase the risk of death. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates 50% of United States’ ground and well water is contaminated with pesticides, resulting in 20,000 deaths per year. Fortunately, home-based test monitors can screen water for hazardous levels of pesticides.


How do pesticides get into our drinking water?

Pesticides can enter private water supplies via many sources:

  • Surface water runoff from agricultural fields, golf courses, and residential properties

  • Rain and snow carries pesticides through soil into underground water supply

  • Improper pesticide disposal via drains

Water pesticide test kits do not specify which pesticides are found in household water, but they provide enough evidence to encourage you to seek further advice from the nearest health department or municipal water treatment facility.


How do I know if my water is contaminated with pesticides?

The only way to know if your water contains pesticides is to perform a water test. Household water test kits can identify traces of lead, nitrates, nitrites, or pesticides in drinking water. Atrazine and Simazine are the most commonly used pesticides in the United States that have the potential of leaching into home water supplies.


What is “hard” water?

Hardness in drinking water is caused by high concentrations of calcium and magnesium which are nontoxic, naturally occurring minerals. When either of these minerals are found in substantial amounts, the water is said to be “hard” because it is difficult to clean or lather. Water containing too little calcium or magnesium is called “soft” water. Soft water usually contains high amounts of sodium to compensate for the lack of calcium and magnesium ions, leading to a salty taste.


Why do I need to test water for hardness level?

Hardness level measures the concentration of calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) of water samples. "Hard" water has high levels of calcium and magnesium, whereas “soft” water contains too little of these ions. Water hardness is not regulated since it does not pose a health risk, but hard water buildup around faucets causes low water pressure when using plumbing fixtures. Hard water usually has a bitter alkaline taste which can be unpleasant. It is difficult to wash clothes thoroughly with hard water, consequently increasing hydro bills. The first step to limiting the effects of hard water buildup is to use a home water treatment test kit to determine if hard water is an issue.


How often should I perform bacteria testing of my household water?

E.coli or coliform bacterial growth in water can occur unsuspectingly, which is why home water testing kits should be used on a regular basis. The frequency of home water testing varies:

  • Once a year for municipal water users

  • Twice a year for well water users

  • Four times a year for people with low immunity, i.e. HIV patients, chemotherapy users

  • Seasonally for people with a pond or pool on their property

  • Anytime upon suspicion of a regional water complaint


How do water pollutants like iron and nitrate affect an individual’s health?

Prolonged exposure to chemicals in drinking water can cause many waterborne diseases:

  • Cholera

  • Typhoid

  • E.coli

  • Infectious hepatitis (jaundice)

  • Amoebic dysentery


What are the health effects of drinking water with high levels of copper?

Copper is an essential nutrient, but too much copper causes adverse health effects, including:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Stomach cramps

  • Nausea

Long-term copper exposure is also associated with liver damage and kidney disease in infants under 12 months old. Adults with liver damage are also more susceptible to copper toxicity. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set a limit of 1.3 parts per million for levels of copper in public and private water supplies; if levels meet or exceed this cutoff, steps must be taken to control corrosivity. The only way to be certain of water copper levels is to test your water supply with a home water testing kit, or by contacting the nearest environmental laboratory.


What waterborne diseases can I contract from contaminated water?

Water-related diseases fall under four categories: waterborne, water-washed, water-based, and water-related insect vectors. Waterborne diseases, i.e. cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, are caused by ingesting water contaminated by human or animal faeces containing pathogenic bacteria. Water-washed diseases, i.e. scabies, trachoma, are caused by poor personal hygiene and skin or eye contact with contaminated water. Water-based diseases, i.e. dracunculiasis, schistosomiasis, are caused by parasites found in organisms living in contaminated water. Water-related insect vectors include dengue, filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, trypanosomiasis and yellow fever.


How do I keep my drinking water safe?

Water contamination from agricultural runoff, malfunctioning septic systems and other sources is preventable with regular water monitoring:

  • Ensure your private well is secured against leakage

  • Monitor your water supply regularly

  • Send water samples to laboratories for analysis

  • Read municipal safety regulations for element concentrations

  • Upgrade treatment equipment, especially if chlorine is used

  • Keep pipes, pumps, valves, storage tanks, reservoirs, meters and fittings in good condition

  • Inspect your water pathway, from source to tap

  • Periodically use home water quality test kits

  • Notify your local water purification facility of contamination

  • Install proper water treatment mechanisms


How can I protect my household from water contamination?

Preventive steps against household water contamination include:

  • Flushing pipes before use

  • Running tap water until ice cold before use

  • Repurpose flushing water for cleaning and watering plants

  • Avoid using hot water which is likely to contain higher levels of lead

  • Inspect plumbing for corrosion

  • Test water with a household Lead in Water Test Kit


Where and how can I test my water?

Municipal water supply systems regularly test for contaminants, and provide water quality reports upon request. County health departments also conduct bacteriological and inorganic matter tests on private water supplies. Certified private testing laboratories can test your household water supply as well. Or, DIY water testing kits like our PurTest 8-in-1 Iron Hardness Water PLUS Test Kit provide reliable and accurate water quality scores.


How do I detect water contamination?

The best way to determine if your water is contaminated with bacteria is by using home water testing kits like PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit With Bacteria Nitrates/Nitrites Tests. It’s easy to use and provides result in 48 hours without requiring laboratory confirmation.


Why do I need to test my pool water or spa water?

Regular and precise testing of swimming pools and spa water is essential to maintain a clean environment and avoid health complications. Proper water balance can be controlled by constant household water testing and chemical regulation.


When should I perform spa or pool water testing?

Pool and spa bacterial water testing is ideal in many scenarios:

  • After treatment for a fecal accident

  • During regular weekly maintenance of your pool

  • After prolonged rainfall or flooding

  • Higher bather load or more frequent use


What illnesses can people get by swimming in a contaminated pool?

People are susceptible to several illnesses when swimming in contaminated pool water:

  • Diarrhea

  • Gastrointestinal pain

  • Rashes or sores

  • Ear infections

  • Respiratory problems

  • Styes, conjunctivitis (pink eye)


How do I test my swimming pool for the presence of bacteria?

Pool water testing is possible with easy to use, DIY household water testing kits. The PurTest Pool and Spa Bacteria Test detects the presence of harmful bacteria in a few minutes:

  • E. Coli

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

  • Shigella

  • Enterobacter

  • Coliform and non-coliform bacteria

PurTest Pool and Spa Bacteria Test helps you determine if it is safe to swim or bathe in your water system.


How do I measure bacteria in a water sample using PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit?

PurTest Bacteria Water Test Kit comes with the tools necessary to detect bacterial growth in tap water.

  1. Collect a 5 mL water sample with the included vial

  2. Shake the vial vigorously for 20 seconds

  3. Place the capped vial upright in a warm area and observe after 48 hours

  4. A Clear or Purple Colored sample indicates a negative result

  5. A Yellow Colored sample indicates a positive result


What elements can I test water for my science project at school?

There are several chemicals and characteristics to test for in water:

  • Iron

  • Chlorine

  • Copper

  • Nitrates/Nitrites

  • Alkalinity

  • pH

  • Hardness

Some schools use educational water learning kits to inspire students to learn about water and proper environmental practice.


Where can I obtain a water sample to test for my school project?

Water can be found in many places:

  • Local streams and ponds

  • Puddles

  • Water fountains

  • Fish tanks

  • Household tap

If testing water for educational or recreational purposes, always consider health and safety by avoiding infectious water sources like toilets or swamps.


What is mold and where is it found?

Molds are microscopic organisms found everywhere indoors and outdoors. Molds can be found on plants, foods, dry leaves and other organic material. Cellulose-based materials such as cardboard, paper, ceiling tiles and sheetrock are also susceptible to mold development. Mold spores easily detach from these surfaces and become airborne by vacuuming, walking on a carpet, or sitting on a couch. In indoor environments, mold can grow in ventilation ducts, carpets, house plants, etc.


How can you be exposed to mold?

Common sources of indoor moisture may cause mold growth in your home or office:

  • Flooding

  • Leaky roofs

  • Humidifiers

  • Damp basements

  • Dark crawl spaces

  • Constant plumbing leaks

  • House plants

  • Steam from cooking or showers

  • Unattended wet clothing


How can mold exposure affect your health?

When even small amounts are inhaled, mold causes a wide range of health problems:

  • Asthma or emphysema

  • Nasal and sinus congestion

  • Red, watery eyes

  • Nose and throat irritation

  • Rashes or skin irritation

  • Aches and pains

  • Fevers

Infants, children, seniors, pregnant women and patients with compromised immunity are at a greater risk of developing health complications upon exposure to mold.


What are the effects and dangers of high radon gas levels?

Radon gas is produced via breakdown of uranium found in water, rocks and soil. This gas is soluble in air, and can permeate walls through foundational cracks and holes. Radon then becomes trapped throughout the home, exposing residents to radiation.

Elevated radon levels exceed 4 pCi/L. Indoor exposure to radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon gas degrades into radioactive particles small enough for inhalation. Symptoms of radon poisoning:

  • Persistent cough

  • Heavy breathing

  • Wheezing

  • Lung infection

Passive radon testing does not require an external power source, and includes charcoal canisters, alpha-track detectors, electret ion chambers and charcoal liquid scintillation devices. Active radon testing devices like continuous radon monitors do require external power. Both passive and active radon tests are time-limited.


How does radon get into my home or office?

Higher radon concentrations are usually present in lower levels of buildings because radon is found in soil and rocks beneath foundation. Radon levels are likely to build up around dirt-covered floors, cracked walls and openings in pumps or drains. The water supply is also susceptible to high radon concentrations, which is why it is necessary to test water quality with our Radon in Water Test Kit.


Am I at risk of radon exposure?

Radon poisoning kills 5,000 to 30,000 people each year. Nearly 1 in 15 homes or offices are estimated to have elevated levels of exposed radon. Radon gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in nonsmokers. The risk of lung cancer from Radon exposure increases depending on:

  • Radon concentration levels

  • Amount of time exposed to radon

  • Being a smoker or inhaling secondhand smoke


What can radon do to you?

Radon gas contains radioactive particles which become trapped in the lungs with every breath. As these particles break down, bursts of radiation destroy lung tissue, leading to many respiratory disorders. Radon is often found within:

  • Cinder block, brick or rock walls

  • Exposed soil in the foundation

  • Cracks in the basement wall

  • An exposed sump pump or floor drain

  • Leaky or loose fitting pipes


What are signs and symptoms of radon poisoning?

Exposure to radon is hard to detect since health problems only occur once it is too late. Symptoms of radon poisoning include:

  • Persistent cough

  • Heavy breathing

  • Wheezing

  • Lung infection

  • Weight loss

  • Hyperglycemia

Radon particles inhaled through chronic cigarette smoking burst inside the lungs, potentially causing lung cancer, emphysema, pneumonia, or pulmonary fibrosis. Radon gas found in water increases the risk of developing stomach cancer.


What do I do if radon levels are high?

There are many ways to reduce radon levels in your living or workspace:

  • Seal or caulk cracks, holes and openings around entry ways

  • Open vents in crawl spaces

  • Minimize time spent in low areas, i.e. basements

  • Increase circulation of fresh air

  • Avoid indoor cigarette smoking


Why is radon testing important

Radon is a carcinogenic indoor air pollutant. It is a ubiquitous gas which emits radioactive particles upon decay and consequently causes lung cancer. Different types of radon testing include:

  • Activated charcoal absorption

  • Alpha track detection

  • Continuous radon monitors

  • Electret ion chambers

  • Unfiltered track detection

  • Charcoal liquid scintillation

  • Activated charcoal and scintillation cell

  • Pump bag devices

  • Continuous working level monitors

  • Radon progeny integration

Radon enters the home through ground diffusion, pressurized airflow and gas appliances. Radon can be released from bricks and mortar, cinder block walls, concrete floors, gravel, sheet rock and stone products. Radon is an invisible and toxic gas which can be lethal in high concentrations.