U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Safe Drinking Water Hotline 1-800-426-4791
Frequently Asked Questions
We want to help you understand the ins and outs of water quality and testing so that you and your family can live a happy, healthy life. If you have any other questions that are not listed below, please contact us at [email protected].
We recommend you pick a faucet that is primarily used for consumption; however, you may test from any location you choose.
Drinking water standards give the level of a pollutant that is acceptable in water. These standards are set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) using available research data. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for contaminants that are known to occur in water, are detectable in water, and cause a health or aesthetic problem in water.
It’s really simple. Just take out the bottle, fill it with COLD water after your pipes have settled for 6-8 hours. Complete the Chain of Custody (COC) sticker and place it on the bottle. Put the filled bottle with the completed COC sticker back in the box and put it in the mailbox using the self addressed paid postage label.
Your kit will arrive via USPS ground service around 7-10 days after ordering. 120WaterAudit will provide a tracking code to monitor your water testing kit’s progress.
You will receive your water test results via email within 14 days of your sample being returned to the lab. Email [email protected] if you do not receive your results.
You can email [email protected] with any questions you have about the service.
Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) are standards that are set by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for drinking water quality. An MCL is the legal threshold limit on the amount of a substance that is allowed in public water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The limit is usually expressed as a concentration in milligrams or micrograms per liter of water.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) primary standards are set for contaminants that cause some health effect such as illness, disease, cancer, or another health problem. Adherence to these standards is mandatory for public water systems, but on private water systems these standards are voluntary. Primary standards are also known as Maximum Contaminant Levels or MCLs.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was originally passed by congress in 1974 to regulate the nation’s public drinking water supply. Under the SDWA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality. The SDWA does not serve private wells under 25 individuals. For more information on the SDWA, visit the EPA’s website.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) secondary standards are created for water contaminants that cause aesthetic problems such as bad taste, discoloration, or odor. In the past, these standards were always voluntary and were used mainly as guides. Recently, however, some community water systems have been required to meet some of these secondary standards. Secondary standards are also known as Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels (SMCLs) or Recommended Maximum Contaminant Levels (RMCLs).
We received a great question from a 120WaterAudit customer the other day and we thought it’d be good to share in case others are wondering:
We mainly drink filtered water through our refrigerator. Should I test that or my kitchen sink? Nick – California
The answer is both, but first, to get a benchmark of your water’s quality you should test the primary faucet that’s used for drinking and/or cooking WITHOUT a filter. This will give you a true benchmark as to your home’s water quality.
That’s not to say; however, that every tap or water source in your house will have the exact same results. Many of our customers choose to purchase a water testing subscription so they can rotate the testing areas in their home throughout the year. Some have even tested their baby’s bottled formula water. (we thought this was a great idea!)
After you have that benchmark we do recommend testing your water wit the filter to ensure it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. For more information about choosing a certified filter for your home, visit the NFG’s website.
If the results of your water test come back higher than the maximum contamination levels (MCL) as defined by the EPA we will provide recommendations as outlined by the CDC among other credible resources. Depending on the results, 120WaterAudit may recommend additional testing or make references to third-party vendors for additional remediation.
Lead in drinking water usually originates from metal water taps, interior water pipes, or pipes connecting a house to the main water pipe in the street. You cannot see, taste or smell lead in drinking water.
High levels of lead are particularly harmful for infants, children, and pregnant mothers. Harmful side effects include delays in physical or mental development and deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Lead exposure with adults can lead to kidney problems and high blood pressure. Consult the CDC for more information about the risks of lead contamination.
The primary drinking water standard MCL for lead is 0.015 mg/L.
Arsenic found in drinking water is generally a byproduct of agriculture and/or industrial run-off and is a known carcinogenic. Arsenic has no smell, taste, or color even in high concentration. Lab testing is the best way to detect the presence of Arsenic in your water supply.
High levels of Arsenic ingestion have been linked to an increased risk of skin, bladder, kidney, prostate, and lung cancer. For more information about Arsenic see the CDC’s fact page.
The primary drinking water standard MCL for Arsenic is 0.010 mg/L.
Nitrate in drinking water usually originates from fertilizers or from animal or human wastes. Nitrate concentrations in water tend to be highest in areas of intensive agriculture or where there is a high density of septic systems.
Nitrate has a primary drinking water standard that was established to protect the most sensitive individuals in the population (infants under 6 months of age and a small component of the adult population with abnormal stomach enzymes). These segments of the population are prone to methemoglo -binemia (blue baby disease) when consuming water with high nitrates.
The primary drinking water standard or MCL is 10 mg/L.
Barium in drinking water can result from oil and gas development, landfill leachate, coal waste and high octane fuels, among other sources. Barium has been linked to an increase in blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, muscle weakness and affect the nervous and circulatory system.
The primary drinking water standard or MCL is 2.0 mg/L.
The pH of water is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is. It is measured on the pH scale (from 0 to 14) in pH units. If the pH of water is less than 7.0, it is acidic, and if it is greater than 7.0, it is basic.
Water with a pH of exactly 7.0 is considered neutral. If pH values deviate very far from neutral, other water quality problems may be indicated. These would include the presence of toxic metals such as lead (at low pH) and high salt contents (at high pH). It is recommended that the pH of your water be between 6.5 and 8.5 to minimize other potential water quality problems. In general, pH is an indicator of other potential water quality problems.
The Chain of Custody sticker, referred to as COC, captures important information our Lab needs to process your water sample. The COC sticker captures various data around the date and time your sample was taken as well as the location. This COC sticker must be signed and completed in order for the lab to process your sample.
You should test your water after your pipes have rested for 6-8 hours. Most people choose to test first thing in the morning. This is commonly referred to as “first draw”.
You will receive your water test results via email within 14 days of your sample being returned to the lab.
Depending on a number of factors including plumbing, service lines and environmental concerns, the quality of your water can change throughout the year. At 120WaterAudit we firmly advocate for regular testing throughout the year to ensure your water’s quality hasn’t changed.
Why should I test my home’s water? This is the #1 question we get at 120WaterAudit and it’s a good one!
If you’re on a private well supply, you should be testing your own water because no else is going to.
If you’re on a public water supply your water utility company works very hard to treat and test your water so it’s safe to drink. The majority of the time your water leaves the plant perfectly safe. What happens after your water leaves their meter and travels to your tap is a different story. The most common way water gets contaminated is through old infrastructure such as lead service lines or your own home’s plumbing.
Testing the taps in your own home is really the only way to ensure you’re water is contaminant free. For more information on how lead and other contaminants enter your water supply check out this video by the USA Today.
Unfortunately we can’t solve your water quality problems; however, we can provide the results that may indicate you have a problem and provide follow-up recommendations based on your test results.