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‘Lead Crisis’ in Oz Spills Over to New Zealand

November 15, 2018

It’s all over the news this morning. The “lead crisis” in Australia has made its way to our land, raising concerns for unsafe levels of lead in our tapware.

With this new knowledge, the Master Plumbers is nudging the Government to take urgent action in reviewing plumbing products currently sold on the market. The group independently tested a number of plumbing products currently being sold in New Zealand, and found one out of the five tested contained lead levels higher than the acceptable limit outlined in the drinking water product standard.

The Dangers of Lead in Our Water

Lead is among the identified cancer-causing trace metals found in plumbing fittings. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranks it as one of the 10 chemicals of major public health concern.

Lead can find its way into our drinking water by a number of ways. For one, it may be present in the source water as free soluble ions, ions complexed with organic matter, precipitated compounds or as compounds adsorbed on particles. It may also be leached from the ground surrounding the pipes. Moreover, lead in the pipes and tapware may also leach into our drinking water when it gets dissolved by corrosive chemicals present in the water.

Lead may be present in minute traces, but this remains a health threat to us. The Ministry of Health says lead concentration of 0.01mg per litre of water is acceptable. Nevertheless, the WHO considers no level of lead exposure as safe.

The problem now is that you could be exposed to a dangerous level of lead every day. Minutes traces of the metal can accumulate in standing water left in the pipes for several hours. So if you have a habit of drinking tap water first thing in the morning, you should throw away the first mugful to remove any metals that may have dissolved and accumulated in the plumbing fittings overnight. This simple precaution can go a long way in preventing serious health issues from lead poisoning.

Another thing you can do to limit your exposure is to choose the right kind of tapware and plumbing products. Do not buy from unverified sources online. Items may be cheaper to buy on the internet, but the risk is greater than the cost savings.

Currently, not all products are being tested. This is because adherence to the drinking water product standard is voluntary in New Zealand. So there’s a real risk that some of the products sold in-store and online are unsafe.

In Australia, they have implemented a mandatory water mark on all plumbing products as proof for passing quality and safety testing. The Master Plumbers suggested that New Zealand should implement a compulsory independent testing and verification process for all tapware and pipe systems sold on the market.

If you are unsure about the safety of your existing plumbing fittings and tapware, consider having them upgraded to tested and verified products. Alternatively, consider having a filtration system installed. For more information, contact Euro Plumbing on 0800 832 638.

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