The following represent some of the most common testing requirements for the home.

Total Coliforms (Bacteria)

If members of your family have been having frequent ear and eye infections, diarrhea, urinary tract infections or skin diseases and you have your own water supply, you may need to have it tested for Total Coliforms (bacteria), according to Dr. Donald A. Hendrickson, Ph.D., microbiologist. “Total Coliform bacteria are the most frequently encountered contaminants found in most water supplies,” says Dr. Hendrickson, HML, Inc., President.

“I recommend that individual water supplies be tested for Total Coliforms at least once a year. However, testing for these bacteria should be performed more frequently during periods of excessive rainfall or when there is flooding.”

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Arsenic Testing

You can’t taste or smell arsenic in drinking water, but it could be present and at high enough levels to hurt you! Arsenic in excess of 0.05 mg/l may cause loss of energy and fatigue, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea, thickening and discoloration of the skin, which could lead to skin cancers, and numbness in the hands and feet. Some people may be affected by lower levels of arsenic than others such as young children, the elderly, people with long-term illnesses and unborn babies.

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Lead Testing

Nearly 1 in 5 Americans drink tap water containing excess levels of highly toxic lead. This heavy metal could be in your drinking water or the paint in your home. In children, high lead concentrations can cause hearing loss, inability to concentrate, hyperactivity, and reduced IQ’s. It also may be a major cause of hypertension, brain and kidney damage, and stroke and heart attacks for middle aged men. Pregnant women may experience increased blood pressure, early delivery, low birth weight babies and minor birth defects. Home plumbing is the most common source of lead in drinking water. However, as water passes through the pipes of a distribution system from the treatment plant to your house and then through you household plumbing, it can dissolve minute amounts of metals present in the piping. Water that touches lead pipes, lead-containing solder in home plumbing or even brass fittings can slowly dissolve lead from the plumbing into the tap water. Lead in tap water is most often a problem in very old or very new houses.

Who gets lead poisoning? (source-U.S. Department of HUD)

  • Lives in an older home (built/constructed before 1978, and even more so before 1960).
  • Does not eat regular meals (an empty stomach accepts lead more easily).
  • Does not eat enough foods with iron or calcium.
  • Has parents who work in lead-related jobs.
  • Has played in the same places as brothers, sisters, and friends who have been lead poisoned (Lead poisoning cannot be spread from person to person. It comes from contact with lead).

Where does lead come from? (source-U.S. Department of HUD)

  • Moving parts of windows and doors that can make lead dust and chips.
  • Lead-based paint on windows, doors, wood trim, walls and cabinets in kitchens and bathrooms, on porches, stairs, railings, fire escapes and lamp posts.
  • Soil next to exterior of buildings that have been painted with lead-based paint and leaded gasoline dust in soil near busy streets.
  • Drinking water. (Pipes and solder)
  • Parents who may bring lead dust home from work on skin, clothes, and hair.
  • Colored newsprint and car batteries
  • Highly glazed pottery and cookware from other countries.
  • Removing old paint when refinishing furniture.

The importance of testing for Lead in our drinking water came to light with the 2016 crisis in Flint, Michigan.  HML can analyze these levels to make sure you are within a safe threshold.

Nitrate Testing

Do you have a baby or a young child and your own water supply? Then you should test your drinking water for nitrates to avoid methemoglobinemia, or “blue baby syndrome.” This results in oxygen deprivation which may be harmful to the developing nervous system of young children or cause death by suffocation. There also is concern that long-term exposure to nitrates in drinking water may cause the development of cancer in adults as well. Infants are at high risk because:

  1. The relatively low acidity (high pH) of an infant’s stomach is an excellent environment for bacteria that convert nitrate to nitrite.
  2. An infant’s intake of fluids is very high in relation to its body weight.
  3. Fetal hemoglobin, the predominant form of hemoglobin in an infant’s blood up to about three months of age, is more rapidly oxidized by nitrite than adult hemoglobin.
  4. The reducing enzyme systems that change methemoglobin back into hemoglobin are not completely developed in infants.

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