Older homes used copper plumbing and the solder used to join the copper pipes together sometimes contained lead which over time tended to find its way into buildings' water supplies. While the amount of leaching depended heavily upon the amount of solder present and quality of the soldering work, it also depended heavily upon the pH of the water, as corrosive water would tend to eat away at the copper (and the lead bearing solder!) faster than non-corrosive water.
Worried that your home's water supply may contain lead? The WaterSafe Lead in Water Test Kit will tell you if your home's water supply contains greater than the USEPA's recommended limit of 15 ppb (parts per billion) in a matter of minutes.
Concerned about the pH of your drinking water? The WaterWorks Extended Range pH test strip detects pH levels as low as 2 and as high as 12 while the WaterWorks pH & Alkalinity test strip product detects both pH and total alkalinity at the same time. Both water testing products allow users to obtain reliable test results in just a few minutes and neither product requires the use of drops, tablets, powders or meters.
Lead in Water Test
Copper in Water Test
Extended Range pH Test
But my annual water quality report says my water is fine...
The test results shown in those reports come from testing performed within the water treatment facilities, not at the point where the water exits your faucet and enters your glass. Before that water reaches your home it must travel through an extensive network of pipes and plumbing containing innumerable opportunities for the introduction of unwanted contaminants.
Typically the annual reports give a good overall picture of a water treatment plant's ability to produce safe, clean drinking water but do not always give a clear picture of water quality at all points of use on a water system since the water treatment plant has no way of knowing what the plumbing from the road to your faucet looks like.
So... if I have lead in my water, how do I get it out?
If simple at-home testing reveals a possible need to install a water filtration system, before you run out and buy the first thing you see, you will want to find out how serious a contamination problem you have since not all water filtration systems work as well or as effectively and the LAST thing you want to do is put too large (expensive) a system in or too small (not effective enough) a system in your home.
Have a qualified water testing laboratory (such as National Testing Laboratories) perform more in-depth testing to determine how much lead -- or other contaminants -- you will need a water filter to remove and THEN select a filter with independent testing that shows it can handle the job(s) at-hand.