Lead is a poison. Those at particular risk are infants and children because lead can have an adverse impact on mental development.
The use of lead pipes in plumbing has been illegal in the UK since 1970s and the use of lead-based solder for joining pipes is also against the law. However, older properties may still have lead plumbing in the house or, even more likely, in the underground pipework connecting the property to the mains.
The UK Drinking Water Inspectorate publishes advice for householders on lead in water. It suggests that if you are concerned about the possibility that lead is used in the plumbing in your home you should get a qualified plumber to check your piping.
If you do have lead pipes you can get your water company to check if there is lead in the water coming from your taps. As a precaution until you can get lead pipes replaced, you should run the tap for 30 seconds or so before using water for drinking or cooking. Water ‘standing’ in pipes for a long period has an opportunity to absorb lead – water running swiftly through the pipes has little chance to do so and is therefore much less likely to be contaminated.
- New York: There’s Lead in Your Tap Water [Warnings] (gawker.com)
- Higher Levels of Lead Seen in City Tap Water (nytimes.com)
- NYC Says ‘Run Tap’ After Lead Found in Water (foxnews.com)
- NYC says ‘run tap’ after tests find lead in water (sfgate.com)
- NYC says ‘run tap’ after tests find lead in water (seattletimes.nwsource.com)