ITHACA, N.Y. — Residents who get their water from a private well or public water system are eligible for free lead testing as part of a new state pilot program.

The New York State Department of Health has recently launched a $1.5 million pilot program to increase access to lead testing and give residents the information take action if the toxic metal is found in their drinking water. The program is available for all New York residents and will continue until funds run out.

Lead can be particularly harmful to children under 6 and pregnant women, according to a news release from the Tompkins County Health Department.

“Lead can affect a young child’s growth, behavior, and ability to learn. During pregnancy, exposure to lead may contribute to low birth weight, preterm delivery, miscarriage, and developmental delays in infants,” the news release said.

While lead can be found in soil and water, the most common source of lead exposure is older paint in homes and the dust it generates.

Residents who want to participate in the pilot program can sign up on the NYSDOH website or call the Bureau of Water Supply Protection at 518-402-7650. Individuals who request testing will choose a participating laboratory that will provide containers and directions to draw two samples. The samples will be mailed to the lab where they will be processed and the results will be sent directly to the residents.

Full website with sign up and list of participating laboratories:

For more resources on Lead Poisoning Prevention:

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.