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The concentration of lead content in drinking waterFeatured science projectScience project video


This experiment was performed to ascertain the concentration of lead content in the tap water of new houses (less than 10 years old) as compared to houses which are more than 50 years old. These older houses should still be using lead pipe plumbing.


Older houses use lead pipe plumbing and therefore a higher level of lead content will be detected in the piped water, as compared to newer homes which use PVC pipes.

Scientific Terms

Lead, PVC, polyvinyl chloride , ppb (part per billion)


Lead piping

Lead pipes were used in plumbing until the early 20th century. Houses that are older than 50 years of age might still be using lead pipe plumbing. Many new houses use PVC pipes for plumbing, although copper and galvanized piping is equally popular.

Lead pipes cause the level of lead in tap water to increase substantially. Excessive lead content in drinking water can cause hypertension and kidney problems in adults. It also delays mental and physical growth in children. Regulations in the US require the level of lead in drinking water to be less than 15 parts per billion (ppb).

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour to prepare, 10 days for collection of samples and preparation
Material availability:
Easily found
Safety concerns:

Do not ingest the water samples.