The New York State Department of Health has announced a new program that will allow residents to have their private wells or public water systems tested for lead — at no charge.
The health department issued a press release last Wednesday outlining details about the $1.5 million program, saying that free testing will continue until those funds are exhausted. Residents who choose to take part in the program will receive a water testing sample kit and must collect samples and send them to a participating laboratory within 30 days. Test results can be expected by mail within 30 days from the date a lab receives the samples.
“This program will increase access to lead testing,” state health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in the release. “Residents can take the opportunity — free of charge — to test their tap water for lead and, based on the results, make informed decisions about their drinking water to best protect their health and that of their loved ones.”
Lead contains toxins that can harm the developing brains and nervous systems of children under 6 years old and affect their growth, behavior and ability to learn, the release states. Exposure to lead during pregnancy may contribute to low birth weight, pre-term delivery, miscarriage and developmental delays in infants, health officials said.
The main source of lead in homes is typically older paint, according to the health department, and testing can help determine where lead contamination originated.
Residents can sign up for the program by visiting the health department’s at http://on.ny.gov/2mflcVB.