While Pro-Lab's Lead in Water test kit won't give you immediate, in-home results, it does contain the supplies you'll need to mail your sample to the company's headquarters in Florida. There, an analysis lab performs a thorough check of your drinking water's lead contamination, at a much more affordable price than the cost of a complete lead risk assessment. It's not a replacement for hiring a professional, but it can give you a very good idea of whether you should be concerned.
The contents of the kit are simple enough: a mailing tube, a plastic test tube to carry the water sample, a pre-paid postage envelope and an information form. The form gives you a place to provide Pro-Lab with additional details about your water supply, the number of units in your apartment building, where in the house the sample was taken and so forth, which can in turn help them make a more accurate analysis. You might not have answers to many of the questions the form asks, but the more you can fill out, the better.
The most important part of collecting your water sample is getting the timing right. Your drinking water needs to stay unused in your pipes for at least six hours before the test, and preferably overnight. Lead pipes and lead-soldered plumbing naturally leach bits of metal into the water they carry, and that effect is compounded the longer water stays in those pipes. By sampling the water that first comes out of the tap in the morning, you can ensure you're testing for the worst-case scenario.
When it comes time to test, you'll first need to very slowly pour about a quart of water into a plastic or glass container, turning the faucet to a thin, steady trickle. You'll then need to stir the water – also with a non-metal utensil – to help distribute any lead particulates evenly. This ensures that when you take the final step and fill the Pro-Lab test tube with the water from the container, the sample is as representative as possible of your overall water supply.
The Lead in Water kit comes with a pre-paid envelope to cover postage, but you're responsible for including a check to cover laboratory fees. Still, if you're concerned about the levels of lead in your water and want the peace of mind that comes with professional testing, Pro-Lab's Lead in Water kit is an easy and comparatively quick option.