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City of Philadelphia

Lead Testing in Philadelphia

Meeting Lead Standards

Philadelphia’s water quality continues to meet all State and Federal standards. Philadelphia Water successfully passed the most recent round of water quality testing for lead at customers’ taps. Learn more and see the results of those tests here.
Because providing our customers with safe, clean drinking water is our core mission, Philadelphia does more than follow EPA and Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (PADEP) regulations for the testing of lead in tap water.

In addition to routine water quality monitoring, source water protection, and effective water treatment that ensures the water coming into homes meets or exceeds all state and federal quality standards, we offer on-demand testing year-round for customers with concerns about lead in their tap water.

If we test your tap water and find lead levels higher than 15 parts per billion (15 ppb), the City will offer help in locating possible sources of lead in your plumbing.

How Testing for Customers Works

When customers concerned about lead call (215) 685-6300, our Bureau of Laboratory Services (BLS) division schedules a visit to the home so that a sample can be collected from the tap. This is the only way to tell if there is a lead issue within the customer's home plumbing.

Once a sample is collected, water quality specialists at BLS test the water and provide customers with the results. If there is an issue, the Philadelphia Water Department returns to the home to help identify the source of lead. Once the source of lead is found, we can recommend options for reducing the lead.

These free services are provided as a part of our mission to deliver safe water to all customers, and are not part of regulatory testing required under the EPA's Lead and Copper Rule.

Testing under the Lead and Copper Rule Regulation

Water providers like the Philadelphia Water Department are required by law to test at least 50 "Tier 1" homes, defined by the EPA as homes with lead services lines or lead solder installed after 1982, every three years. This testing is designed to ensure that corrosion control treatment is working.

To date, BLS experts have tested for lead levels in accordance with the requirements of the federal Lead and Copper Rule, issued in June 1991, for nearly a quarter century. The most recent Lead and Copper Rule tests were conducted at 134 homes during 2014, and Philadelphia Water was found to be in compliance with EPA's standards.

See the 2014 results here.

Testing has shown that corrosion control treatment is effective and keeps levels of lead in water below EPA standards in most homes with service pipes made of lead or other lead plumbing. Some homes without a water service pipe made of lead may still be at risk for elevated lead levels because of loose lead solder or older brass valves containing lead. All customers should take time to check pipes for lead. If you do find lead, take these steps to reduce the risk of exposure and call our hotline at (215) 685-6300 for more information.

Volunteer for 2017 Sampling
The next round of Lead and Copper Rule sampling will take place during the summer of 2017. If you have a lead service line and believe that your home may qualify for sampling, please call 215-685-6300 to learn more. We depend on citizen volunteers to get as many samples from as many homes as possible. These tests will be conducted using new testing guidelines adopted by the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection.

2016 Testing Program
To reflect new testing guidelines adopted by the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection, the Philadelphia Water Department is conducting a lead testing program from July-December 2016. This testing program is being conducted in advance of regulatory sampling for lead scheduled for 2017.

How Can I Get My Water Tested?

Philadelphia Water will conduct free lead tests for customers. If you believe you have lead plumbing in your home and would like to have someone check your water, call our hotline at 215-685-6300 to schedule an appointment.

Maintaining Household Plumbing