‘widespread’ lead contamination of domestic unfiltered tap water found
Some Australians could be getting a dangerous level of lead contamination from their un-filtered tap water, a study has found. Researchers from Macquarie University have detected copper and lead contaminants in domestic water samples across NSW.
The results of their study were published in Environmental Research.
In some cases the levels exceed what’s listed as acceptable in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines set by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Lead is well known for its harmful effects on the human body, and according to the NHMRC, infants, children, and pregnant women are at the greatest risk.
Drinking water with high levels of lead can lead to its accumulation in the body, posing particular risks to children’s brain development – even when there are no obvious signs of poisoning. Copper contamination is a less severe problem, but prolonged exposure can lead to liver damage.
Using volunteers the researchers gathered domestic water samples collected after water sat in domestic taps for a nine-hour “stagnation period.” This is usually when you run the tap first thing in the morning to fill the kettle. The team tested 212 such “first draw” samples, and found copper in nearly all of them, while lead was present in 56 per cent of the households tested.
“My results show that there is quite a significant concentration of lead and copper in the drinking water that is coming out of people’s kitchen taps into their morning cup of tea, or baby formula,” says lead author of the study, PhD researcher Paul Harvey.
unfiltered water health concern
According to health guidelines, drinking water should contain no more than 10 micrograms of lead per litre – but 8% of the lead samples contained higher levels that that.
The researchers believe their results could be extrapolated to the population of the whole country, making it a considerable health concern.
“Eight per cent may not sound like a big number, but if it is eight per cent of the Australian population, we’re talking about a lot of people,” says Harvey. Study co-author Professor Mark Taylor said the main cause of the problem was the water tap rather than the water supply. “Domestic water may be accidentally contaminated through lead use in brass fittings,” he said.
Professor Taylor said it can be difficult to discern whether the plumbing in your house might be contaminating your water, so researchers are advising consumers to be cautious – especially if the family has young children.
avoid risks with a reliable water filter system
The researchers are advising worried consumers to get in touch with their water supplier or the local council to see whether water testing at the household level is available. If lead is confirmed to be a problem, changing taps to lead-free ones could be a necessary step – but that may be costly.
“To mitigate the risks, perhaps you might buy a filter that is efficient at removing heavy metals, for example,” suggests Harvey.
A BIBO water bar offers the ideal solution. BIBO is the latest technology in water filtration and purification – a water filter system you can trust. BIBO removes all the nasties from your tap water. It’s advanced multi-stage carbon filter is highly effective in removing contaminants from your tap water including:
- Sediments, tastes, odours, and organic matter
- Chlorine, lead, copper, and other chemicals and inorganic substances
- Protozoan cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidium
All the essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium are left behind in your water. And the powerful UV lamp purification system destroys bacteria and viruses that may be present in your water.
Water from your BIBO is crystal clear, refreshing, healthy, and tastes great.
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