DUNCANNON, Pa. (WHTM) – A borough in Perry County is handing out testing kits, encouraging people to test their taps after routine checks found elevated lead levels in a couple spots last year.
The kits — just a large plastic bottle with instructions on what to do — became available for pickup at the Duncannon borough offices Wednesday.
“I heard about the lead,” Britney Chinsue said to a borough employee as soon as she walked into the building.
Chinsue just moved to Duncannon, but this wasn’t the welcome gift she imagined.
She’s one of the people the large box of plastic bottles is meant for.
“How does it get into the water?” she asked borough manager Chris Courogen.
He explained unbalanced pH levels can cause corrosion, especially on connecting pipes that are soldered together with lead.
“We know that the mains are not lead,” Courogen went on, “but we don’t know that there aren’t any connections to service lines that aren’t.”
Chinsue has a 2-year-old son; she worries about bath time. “My conscience is telling me don’t put him in there,” she said, “but I have to bathe him.”
Now she has to test, too.
“I just want to make sure I get it out of the water, and if I have to buy test kits and test it once a week, then I will,” Chinsue said.
The problem started a few months ago during normal lead testing. Duncannon discovered two out of ten test spots had high levels of the heavy metal. Courogen said the testing bottles are a precaution.
“The key is you can’t fix it if you don’t know you have a problem,” he said.
At $20, he said this is cheaper and easier than most testing; fill up the bottle, bring it back by the end of the month, and they send it to the lab.
“We could pay for it,” Courogen said. “We would just have to raise taxes or raise rates to cover it.”
It’ll take a while to get results and even longer to figure out if it’s a borough problem or a homeowner problem. Until then, Chinsue is taking precautions of her own.
“I definitely want a second child,” she said, “but, you know, a pregnant woman needs a lot of water and that’s the last thing I want to be doing is bathing and drinking water that’s not going to be safe for me or my family.”
Testing water is just one recommendation from the Department of Environmental Protection to safeguard your family. If you’re concerned, run your tap for 15-30 seconds before using it, use cold water for cooking, don’t boil it in order to remove the lead — that won’t help — and, as homeowners around Duncannon may have to do, check to see if you have lead pipes.