The Department of Health advises that lead can be harmful if levels are allowed to build up in your body particularly for pregnant women and young children. The World Health Organisation’s standard for lead in drinking water is 10 micrograms per litre (ug/l) (One ug/l is the same as one part per thousand million). Very few drinking water samples exceed this level.
Water leaving the treatment works is virtually free of lead, but small traces can sometimes be picked up as the water passes through old lead pipes. This generally only affects properties built before 1970 as those built since are likely to have plastic or copper pipes.
Lead solder should only be used on central heating systems, but sometimes lead in drinking water can be due to lead solder wrongly used on domestic plumbing. To avoid this, when you need a plumber, select a business that is a member of an Approved Contractors’ Scheme, such as WaterSafe. A WaterSafe plumber has had training in Water Fittings Regulations, so they can minimise risks from poor installation or sub-standard materials that could cause contamination to your drinking water supply.
Your water company can help you identify the source of lead in your water and will replace any of their lead pipes. They may advise you to replace your lead plumbing too. To find out which pipes you own, take a look at the diagram here.
A consumer advice leaflet on www.DWI.gov.uk has more detail on lead.
Questions about lead pipes?
Please contact your local water company. Don’t know who your supplier is? Find out here