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Best Water Testers for Lead (Test Kits)

Scott Winfield
Written by Scott Winfield
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Lead is a naturally occurring element in rocks and soil, utilized in many industries. It was also a common heavy metal used in piping systems, such as solder, fixtures, or pipes, until 1986, when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deemed it unsafe.

Although strict regulations have been implemented regarding lead in piping systems and drinking water since 1986, it continues to worry many Americans. It’s one of the most dangerous and most common drinking water contaminants in the United States.

That’s exactly why you need to test your water for lead regularly. To help you with that, we have compiled a list of the best water test kits.

Best Water Testers for Lead (Test Kits)

After months of research, we concluded that the My Tap Score Essential City Water Test Kit is the best for testing lead in tap water. For well water, our recommendation is the My Tap Score Essential Well Water Test Kit.

The Best Water Testers for Lead Are:
My Tap Score Essential City Water Test Kit
Best Lead Water Tester for Tap Water
  • The number of tested analytes: 47
  • Turn-around time: 5 business days
My Tap Score Essential Well Water Test Kit
Best Lead Water Tester for Well Water
  • The number of tested analytes: 52
  • Turn-around time: 5 business days
My Tap Score Lead and Copper Water Test
Best Lead-Specific Water Tester for Tap Water
  • The number of tested analytes: 3
  • Turn-around time: 5 business days
  • Price: $48
Safe Home Lead Drinking Water Test Kit
Best Lead-Specific Water Tester for Well Water
  • The number of tested analytes: 2
  • Turn-around time: 2-3 business days
Safe Home DIY Lead in Water Test
Best DIY Lead Water Tester
  • The number of tested analytes: 1
  • Turn-around time: 10 minutes
Health Metric Drinking Water Test
Runner-Up DIY Lead Water Test Kit
  • The number of tested analytes: 9
  • Turn-around time: 10 minutes

Lead Water Testers

My Tap Score Essential City Water Test Kit

My Tap Score Essential City Water Test Kit
  • The number of tested analytes: 47
  • Turn-around time: 5 business days
Pros
  • The most comprehensive and accurate lead test for city water
  • Tests for 46 other city water analytes
  • Turn-around of five business days
  • Detailed analysis
  • Offers water treatment solutions
  • Immaculate online support
Cons
  • Expensive

If you rely on tap water and are concerned about lead in your water supply, the My Tap Score labs designed their Essential City Water Test Kit to help you evaluate its levels. It tests for lead and other related parameters that cause problems due to old piping systems.

This particular test kit is the most comprehensive and accurate one on the market in determining lead levels in your water. It also tests for 46 other analytes:

  • Properties, such as alkalinity, pH, and total dissolved solids
  • Fertilizers, namely nitrates
  • Heavy metals, chief among them lead, but also referring to other dangerous contaminants like aluminum, arsenic, barium, cadmium, copper, mercury, titanium, and uranium
  • In-organic non-metal impurities, meaning minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, fluoride, and so on)
  • Calculated parameters, including water hardness and sodium adsorption ratio
  • Disinfectants, meaning total and free chlorine levels at your faucets

So, besides accurately estimating lead, the analyte range of the My Tap Score city water kit provides a basic but comprehensive look at the makeup of your water.

Another reason why we champion this test over others is the turnaround time. Despite how comprehensive the test is, the lab returns results five business days after receiving your water sample.

The results detail the health concerns associated with each tested analyte, including lead, and compare their presence in your water with standards set by the EPA under the Safe Water Drinking Act. As a cherry on top, the lab recommends related water treatment solutions if lead (or any other contaminant) is above safe levels.

They also offer excellent online support if you have questions regarding the final analysis.

Yet, similarly to all professional water testers, the My Tap Score Essential City Water Test Kit is expensive. So, if you want to have your water tested regularly (say, twice a year), it could put a strain on your budget.


My Tap Score Essential Well Water Test Kit

My Tap Score Essential Well Water Test Kit
  • The number of tested analytes: 52
  • Turn-around time: 5 business days
Pros
  • The most comprehensive and accurate lead test for well water
  • Tests for 51 other analytes
  • Turn-around period of only five days
  • Provides detailed info on analytes
  • Recommends water treatment solutions
  • Excellent online support
Cons
  • Expensive

In well water, lead could end up at your faucets due to its natural presence in the water source and aging piping and plumbing systems. If lead ends up in your drinking water that way, other common well water contaminants can do it, too, and the My Tap Score Essential Well Water Test Kit aims to identify all of them.

So, if you suspect lead presence in your well water, this particular kit will test for it and for 51 other analytes, five more than the city water kit we reviewed above. Those other analytes are under the following categories:

  • Properties: Alkalinity, conductivity, pH, total dissolved solids, and pH
  • Bacteria: Total coliform, E. coli, which are serious and common concerns among many private well owners
  • Fertilizers: Nitrites and nitrates
  • Heavy metals: Lead, arsenic, copper, mercury, titanium, uranium, and so on
  • In-organic non-metal impurities: Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and fluoride
  • Calculated parameters: Water hardness, among other parameters, is a concern for households who rely on well water for laundry, dish-washing, and other cleaning chores
  • Hydrogen sulfide, which is another common problem in wells since it gives water a stench reminiscent of rotten eggs

All these analytes make the My Tap Score well water kit a great choice for well-owners.

Like the same brand’s city water kit, the turnaround is five business days after the lab receives your water sample.

Additionally, the lab provides thorough information on each well water analyte, allows you to make comparisons to EPA regulations, and offers solutions if the presence of a health hazard such as lead is above safety standards.

You can easily contact the My Tap Score online support team if you have further questions about lead or any other contaminant.

Unfortunately, the My Tap Score Essential Well Water Kit is even more expensive than the city water one. However, that’s expected as it covers five more analytes.


My Tap Score Lead and Copper Water Test

My Tap Score Lead and Copper Water Test
  • The number of tested analytes: 3
  • Turn-around time: 5 business days
Pros
  • The test is particular to piping system problems
  • Detailed analyses and info on lead and copper
  • Testing conducted with the EPA 200.8 method
  • Offers water treatment solutions
  • Features a DIY pH test strip
Cons
  • The turnaround is five days for only two contaminants

If you know that the lead problem in your home is due to aging piping systems, you don’t need to go into all that detail regarding other contaminants. So, a lead-only water test is what you should be looking for.

My Tap Score is the best answer in this situation, with its Lead and Copper water test targeting piping system problems in drinking water.

The EPA regulates these heavy metals under the National Primary Drinking Water Standards as they directly threaten citizens’ health. While the agency establishes there is no safe lead level in drinking water, it allows copper at a maximum of 1.3 mg/L.

If the test results show the presence of the two metals above safety standards set by the EPA, My Tap Score lab will provide a detailed analysis of both. In addition, it’ll recommend methods for dealing with these contaminants.

The lab conducts its analyses following the EPA 200.8 method. This method employs plasma-mass spectrometry to determine the presence of trace elements in water and waste. So, you should have no doubts concerning the accuracy and reliability of the findings.

The test package also features a DIY test strip for measuring pH. Just by dipping it into a glass of water, you’ll learn the pH level of your water in under a minute.

Like with the lab’s city and well water tests, the turnaround time for the lead and copper test is five business days. It might sound too much for only two contaminants, but it’s part of what makes it so reliable.


Safe Home Lead Drinking Water Test Kit

Safe Home Lead Drinking Water Test Kit
  • The number of tested analytes: 2
  • Turn-around time: 2-3 business days
Pros
  • Ideal lead test for private well owners
  • Tests for both dissolved and solid lead
  • The lab tells you the reason why you have lead at your faucets
  • Features a DIY bacteria test
  • Two or three days of turn-around period
Cons
  • The lab doesn’t recommend lead-related water treatment solutions
  • More expensive than the My Tap Score test

The Safe Home lead-specific test only provides information on lead, but it does it as accurately and even more comprehensively than the My Tap Score.

Lead can be present in water in two forms: dissolved lead and solid lead. While lead leaching from piping systems is mostly dissolved lead, it’s found in solid form in nature. So, in well water, it’s imperative to test for solid lead, too, which is what the Safe Home test does.

The Safe Home Lead Test Kit features two vials. One is for testing dissolved lead, and the other is for its solid form. Once you test, the lab provides you with a total lead count, which makes it the most comprehensive lead test.

Another reason why the Safe Home test is ideal for well water is that the package features a DIY bacteria test. The Safe Home bacteria test detects more than 50 subspecies of coliform bacteria, including the most dangerous one, E. coli.

Additionally, the turnaround time for this test is better than for the My Tap Score one. After receiving your sample vials, the lab sends you an email with detailed results in two or three business days.

Since the lab tests for both dissolved and solid lead, they can also tell you how the lead ended up in your water supply so that you can implement relevant solutions. However, unlike My Tap Score, Safe Home doesn’t recommend solutions.

On a final note, the Safe Home kit is almost twice as expensive as the My Tap Score test kit.


Safe Home DIY Lead in Water Test

Safe Home DIY Lead in Water Test
  • The number of tested analytes: 1
  • Turn-around time: 10 minutes
Pros
  • The best DIY test for lead
  • Only ten minutes of turn-around
  • Prepared by an EPA-certified lab
  • Made in USA
Cons
  • Features only one test strip
  • Not as accurate as professional tests

Sometimes time is of the essence when it comes to lead identification. If you don’t want to wait a week to hear back from professional water testing labs, having DIY lead tests at hand is practical and helpful. We recommend the Safe Home DIY Lead in Water Test in this category.

The kit features one test strip and one color code guide. Once you dip the strip into a glass of water, it’ll change color.

After ten minutes, compare the strip’s color with the color guide in the product box to determine whether your water is safe from lead.

Rest assured that an EPA-certified laboratory produces this test entirely on US soil, so there’s no question regarding its reliability.

However, we should also note that DIY test strips rarely provide results as accurate as professional kits, nor are they able to provide detailed analyses concerning contaminants.

Also, Safe Home’s lead-specific DIY kit is more expensive than some DIY kits that test for ten to fifteen contaminants. Plus, it only features one strip, meaning if you always want to have a couple of lead tests at hand, it’ll cost you a lot.


Health Metric Drinking Water Test

Health Metric Drinking Water Test
  • The number of tested analytes: 9
  • Turn-around time: 10 minutes
Pros
  • Tests for eight other parameters besides lead
  • Ideal for hikers
  • User-friendly
  • The turn-around period is only ten minutes
Cons
  • Less accurate than professional kits, and the Safe Home DIY lead test

If you’re going to pay for test strips, you might as well pay for one that tests for other parameters alongside lead. If you agree with us on this point, let us introduce you to the Health Metric Drinking Water Test – the best product in its category.

Similar to the Safe Home test, it features one test strip for lead. However, it also features stripes for eight other parameters in the package: total chlorine, nitrites, nitrates, pH, alkalinity, copper, water hardness, and bacteria.

In that sense, it’s a water test kit that every hiker and backcountry backpacker should have. Whenever you encounter an unregistered spring, you may test its water yourself and determine whether it’s safe from lead, nitrate, or bacteria.

Its operation principle is the same as the Safe Home DIY kit above. You dip a strip into the water, wait a bit, and compare the strip’s color with the color guide provided in the package.

Its turnaround time is the same as Safe Home’s — it lets you know what’s in the water in under ten minutes.

Of course, in terms of accuracy, it’s somewhat less reliable than the Safe Home kit. Yet, it’s helpful when you need immediate results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we answer the most frequently asked questions concerning lead and water tests that provide information on lead levels in your water.

What is lead, and how does it end up at my faucet?

Lead is a naturally occurring heavy metal present in rocks and soil. Inevitably, surface water runoff or rainwater, especially those of acidic nature, often carry lead to water sources, be it underground aquifers or above-ground streams, lakes, and springs.

However, this doesn’t mean that all drinking water contains lead. Municipal authorities and water suppliers typically treat water before its distribution to citizens’ households. The treatment methods they employ, such as reverse osmosis or distillation, are effective for removing lead.

Yet, buildings and piping systems built before 1986 are likely to leach lead into the water. Due to the constant flow of water, the lead in the piping systems dissolves into water. That’s why even the cities with the safest water in the United States, for instance, Portland, Oregon, have a lead problem.

Additionally, the municipal authorities aren’t always reliable when testing or treating new water sources. The Flint Water Crisis presents a recent and tragic example of that.
When it comes to well water, the problem is even more complicated. The presence of lead in well water might be due to either an aging infrastructure well within the house or the natural occurrence of lead in the water source.

If the lead in the water is dissolved, the likely source is an aging piping system. On the other hand, if it’s in solid form, it’s present in or around the water source and somehow sneaks into the well water.

What are the health concerns associated with lead?

According to the EPA, lead in drinking water is not safe, even if it’s there in trace amounts, as it has profound health implications.

Adults exposed to lead can suffer:
Memory loss
Kidney dysfunction

Most seriously, increased risks of various cancers, including kidney, lung, brain, and liver
In pregnant women, exposure to lead might lead to severe carriage and birth problems such as:
Prevention of fetus growth
Miscarriage
Premature birth
Stillbirth

For children, the implications are no less severe:
Hearing and speech impairment
Behavioral issues
Arrest in physical and mental development
Damages and problems in the central and peripheral nervous system
Brain damage

So, it’s best practice to test your water for lead regularly. Otherwise, you could risk your and your family’s health.

How frequently should I test my water for lead?

Authorities like the EPA and CDC recommend water tests on an annual basis, be it for tap or well water. However, considering the severe health implications of lead in drinking water, it wouldn’t hurt to conduct tests twice every year.

Which water test provides the most accurate findings on lead?

The My Tap Score Essential City or Well Water Kits are the water tests that provide the most accurate and comprehensive results regarding lead.
In addition, the My Tap Score lab report gives detailed information concerning this heavy metal. If there’s lead in your water, the lab recommends water treatment solutions.

Are there any lead-specific water testers on the market?

Yes, the two leading names in the water-testing industry, My Tap Score and Safe Home, offer lead-specific tests.
While the former is more suitable for testing tap water, it’s ideal for well-owners because it gives a total lead count (meaning dissolved lead + solid lead) and features a DIY bacteria kit.
What should I do if tests show lead presence in my water supply?
If tests show lead presence in your drinking water, stop consuming it, as it is not safe for drinking. The best thing you can do is to stick to bottled water, like spring water, and seek permanent solutions to your lead problem.
For instance, if the lead ends up at your faucets due to the aging infrastructure of your building, consider replacing the piping system. Of course, such big-scale action will cost you about $30,000, but getting rid of lead is worth it.

If you’re looking for a water filter that’s capable of dealing with lead, you shoud check out our related guides:

How to Remove Lead from Water
6 Best Water Filters for Lead

Additionally, based on years of experience in the water treatment niche, we recommend the Clearly Filtered Water Pitcher. Its 99.3% lead reduction rate is the best water filtration product for tackling this particular heavy metal.

Conclusion

Lead is among the most common and hazardous drinking water problems in the United States. So, it’s imperative to have your water tested for it regularly.

While the My Tap Score Essential City Water Kit is the best lead-testing choice for those who rely on tap water, the My Tap Score Essential Well Water Test Kit is the ideal lead test for well owners.

If you want a lead-specific water test due to the aging infrastructure of your building, we recommend the My Tap Score Lead and Copper Test. If you have a well and want separate tests for dissolved lead and solid lead, on the other hand, the Safe Home Lead in Water Kit is the evident choice for you.

Do you want immediate test results? Then you need a DIY kit. Our recommendation in this category is the Safe Home DIY Lead Kit.

Lastly, the Health Metric Drinking Water Test is an excellent option for testing your water for some other parameters with a DIY kit.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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