Australia’s got a bit of a problem, and plumbers in Brisbane and across the country are a little worried about it, with the people in Victoria taking notice first.
Recent investigations found that brass plumbing fittings and partsused in plumbing causes increased lead levels in drinking water, however small. Such fittings are primarily used for public drinking fountain, though they also see installation in homes, businesses and schools across the country. This was revelation was discovered when Geelong and Warnambool turned off all their water drinking fountains after Victorian health officials detected elevated amounts of lead in the water back in May of 2018.
Chief Health Officer for the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Charles Guest, says that the drinking water fountains aren’t the primary source of people’s daily drinking water, but the similar brass fittings in homes, which see far more use, are a greater priority.
CEO of Master Plumbers Australia, Peter Daly, says that if Aussies have any concerns regarding the taps and fittings located into their houses, they should turn to the local licensed plumber, that plumbers in Brisbane and across the country have insight on the matter. He adds that lead is a dangerous, long-term toxin, but that it won’t help if people overreact to the whole thing.
The primary problem comes with brass plumbing components which can slowly leach minute concentrations of lead into the drinking water that flows through them. They were discovered thanks to a research by a team from Macquarie University in Sydney, which tested water in homes across the NSW. Their findings saw that 8% of the sample homes had concentrations of lead higher than the acceptable value set by the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).
By testing the quality of the water as it entered the homes and comparing that to their state when they flow out from the internal taps, the study was able to narrow down the culprit, with the paper saying that analysis of the plumbing fittings, like taps and other brass components, show that they’re the ones responsible for the increased levels of lead.
It also pointed to several studies in the past, which state that brass taps and fittings have been a known source of contaminations in drinking water over a long amount of time.
The Victorian Government’s Better Health website says that lead exposure can lead to permanent brain damage and stunted intellectual development, particularly to younger kids. Additionally, the DHHS released a statement regarding the matter, saying that the drinking fountains aren’t an immediate concern, pointing out that they’re not the primary source of drinking water. The ramifications of having plumbing materials with minute traces of lead coming into contact with drinking water is an issue that’s starting to garner attention worldwide, and once the Geelong investigation is finished and the results published, then the state will act as needed.
Elizabeth O’ Brien, VP of the NPO, The Lead Group, pointed out that, for the most part, the sales and installation of fittings and taps made from brass lacks strict regulation. The group has, in the past, advocated for the removal of lead from petrol and paint as part of its crusade against lead poisoning and pollution.
O’Brien says that this issue shines light on how plumbing regulations really are in the country.