Traces of lead in your water can be harmful because of the way it can build up in the body and affects multiple body systems. Those particularly at risk are pregnant women and children under the age of six as lead can have an adverse impact on mental development. It may also be a factor in behavioural problems. The World Health Organisation advises that there is no safe level of lead in drinking water so it is best to minimise your level of lead intake as much as possible.
The Drinking Water Inspectorate provide information and advice to consumers on the quality of drinking water. Their advice leaflet on lead can be found on their website.
The World Health Organisation class lead as one of the top ten chemicals of major health concern. Further information can be found on their website including a fact sheet and a publication ‘Exposure to lead: a major public health concern’.
How can I reduce the amount of lead I drink?
Replacing your lead pipe with a new plastic pipe is the best way to get rid of the lead completely so we recommend that you take up this offer. If you choose not to, there are a few things you can do to lower the lead levels in your water:
Cold water: Only use water from the cold kitchen tap for drinking and cooking. Hot water dissolves more lead. Boiling water does not remove lead and you should empty and refill the kettle before each use so you are not reboiling the water.
Run the tap: Always run the tap before using the water for drinking, cooking or brushing your teeth. This is particularly important if the water has been stood for any length of time such as overnight or when you’ve been out of the house for several hours. Run the tap at a medium flow until the sink or washing up bowl is full. This would usually be enough to remove standing water in a pipe up to 40 metres. Flushing the toilet or having a shower will also remove the standing water.