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Kent County to start testing for lead in water

Karen Blaha
flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Kent County Health Department will conduct its own tests of water for lead, copper and arsenic, starting in February. New equipment will be installed next week.

Right now, Kent County tests water samples for E.coli and some chemicals like fluoride and chloride. But lead testing is handled by the state.

According to Allyson Chirio, lab manager for the Kent County Health Department, the new testing capacity is not in response to the Flint water crisis. 

But Chirio said that the crisis has increased the demand for water tests both from people who get their water from wells and those whose water is from public systems. 

"I think that Flint has made people question and ask what's in their water supplies," said Chirio. "They're just concerned for their families and their children about whether there's lead in their water."

Kent County Health Department tests water samples submitted by individuals, businesses and government entities both inside and outside Kent County. The tests cost $18 per metal tested.

Chirio said Kent County's new testing capacity could help the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality keep up with testing water.  

According to Chirio, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has asked the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Laboratory for help with testing. Chirio said she told the director of the MDHHS lab that the Kent County lab also would be happy to help when it is ready to test for lead next month.